A Savannah family that lost four people in a boat crash over the weekend had ties to the Atlanta area.
The accident happened on the Wilmington River in Savannah at around 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Two boats coming in opposite directions slammed into each other, killing five people and injuring four more.
Chris Leffler, who was a history teacher at a Christian school in Savannah, was killed along with his wife, Lori, and his two sons, 23-year-old Zack and 17-year-old Nate.
The Lefflers’ daughter, Katie, and a friend survived the crash.
A man on the other boat, 37-year-old Robert Chauncey, was also killed. That boat’s driver, 45-year-old Mark Stegall, was arrested for boating under the influence.
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Channel 2 Action News has learned that the Leffler family had just moved to Savannah a few months ago and that Chris Leffler previously taught at King’s Ridge Christian School in Alpharetta.
Dr. Edward Spurka is the head of the school and spoke to Channel 2′s Justin Carter Monday night.
“It took the wind out of our entire community,” Spurka said.
Spurka said Chris Leffler was always first to arrive and last to leave.
“He loved our school. He loved our kids. He was a father figure to every student,” Dr. Spurka said.
He said Chris Leffler loved teaching so much, he recently took a group of students to Italy in January.
“We prayed and we worried about sending kids overseas because they have to get tested and worried about kids staying back, and Chris was always adamant about he would do anything for our kids. And we could have never pulled it off without him,” Dr. Spurka said.
Spurka also said Nate Leffler played football for King’s Ridge.
“They loved the school. They loved their friends,” Spurka said.
ABC News spoke with two boaters who saw the boats moments before the crash. In all, nine people were on the two boats headed in opposite directions when they crashed.
“It’s a very, very sharp corner,” Stepp Syndor said. “They were going so fast, so there’s no way that they could have, you know, corrected. And then when they hit, the damage was significant. Everybody flew out of the boat.”
Chris Leffler most recently worked as a history teacher and coach at Calvary Day School, a private Christian school in Savannah.
“We love the Leffler family and our hearts are broken. I want to thank all of the first responders and everyone who continues to pray for the Calvary community and the Leffler family. Everyone that knows them has seen faith in action. Chris, Lori, Zack, and Nate were loved by so many and will be missed dearly,” Dr. Hunter Chadwick said in a statement.
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“Chris was great at building relationships with students, parents and peers. He was an outstanding teacher, coach, and he was a friend. Nate, a senior at Calvary Day, had a quiet demeanor, contagious smile and passion for athletics. He was well-liked by his peers, was a great brother and a loving son.”
The school has set up a memorial fund in the Leffler’s honor.
Channel 2′s ABC affiliate WJCL News 22 got a picture of Stegall talking with the police on the river Saturday.
According to public records, he owns several restaurants across the low country. He is also an avid boater and owns several boats.
Department of Natural Resources investigators said they will continue to investigate for another six to eight weeks.
A prayer vigil will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the King’s Ridge student center in honor of the Leffler family and to pray for healing for Leffler’s daughter Katie and her friend who survived the crash.
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