A San Ramon native studying at Western Washington University was killed in a solo-vehicle crash amid snowy conditions earlier this week while traveling to Mount Baker near the U.S.-Canada border.
Madeline "Maddie" Hurd, a 2015 California High School graduate and the daughter of San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Education President Rachel Hurd, was in her senior year working toward a bachelor's degree in recreation at the university in northwestern Washington. She was 21 years old.
"Our entire community is mourning with the Hurd family," SRVUSD Superintendent Rick Schmitt told DanvilleSanRamon.com. "Maddie was a terrific young lady supported by a wonderful family. We all share in expressing our deepest sympathy to the Hurd family during this difficult time."
Hurd was an active member of the leadership program at Cal High, and she played all four years on the Grizzlies' varsity girls water polo team, in addition to swimming for Cal. A recreational skier most of her life, Hurd worked as a ski instruction supervisor on Mount Baker while in college. She was focusing on the adventure therapy field within her recreation major at Western Washington.
The university community held a vigil in Hurd's honor on Thursday, and Western Washington officials expressed condolences in a post on the university's website in the wake of Wednesday morning's crash.
"Maddie Hurd was an amazing young woman, an excellent student and a wonderful friend to her fellow students. She was a recreation professional that was already making an incredible impact on the lives of others. Her goal was simple yet powerful: she wanted to inspire others to push themselves, to get out of their comfort zones, and to discover their true potential. She will be greatly missed," said Keith Russell, chair of the university's recreation program.
According to the Washington State Patrol (WSP), the crash was reported at 8:20 a.m. Wednesday on the Mount Baker Highway (Highway 542), just outside the town of Glacier, Wash. -- almost 30 miles east of Bellingham, Wash., where the university is based.
Hurd was behind the wheel of a 2003 Subaru station wagon when she lost control amid snowy and slushy conditions and the car crossed the center lane, went off the highway, rolled over onto the passenger side and crashed against a tree, according to the WSP.
Hurd died at the scene. The lone passenger, Western Washington student Gina Heuscher, was injured and later treated and released from a nearby hospital.
The two young women worked at the Mt. Baker Ski Area.
"Maddie was one of our instruction program supervisors, and she was a valued member of a very tight knit group of Mt. Baker Ski Area employees," Gwyn Howat, Mount Baker executive vice president and operations manager, told The Bellingham Herald this week.
"She touched the lives and shared her joy of the mountain with many kids and families through her work at the Ski Area. We have lost a friend, a co-worker and a dear member of the Mt. Baker mountain community," Howat added. "Those of us from the Ski Area community send our thoughts and true sympathies to Maddie's family and her loved ones."
The WSP concluded the crash was caused by driving too fast for the wintry conditions that morning. Drugs and alcohol were not considered factors, and both women were wearing seatbelts, according to the WSP.
Maddie Hurd is survived by her parents Alec and Rachel Hurd, who live in San Ramon, and older brothers Dan and Adam, both Cal High alumni. Rachel Hurd has served on the SRVUSD Board of Education, a publicly elected position, since 2006.
Recreation played a formative role throughout Hurd's young life.
She was in the pool alongside the San Ramon Aqua Bears as a toddler while her brothers participated, and she swam in her first competitive race in the 6-and-under field as a 4-year-old. Hurd was an Aqua Bear throughout her childhood and helped the younger "Aqua Cubs" and others learn to swim.
As she grew, Hurd also followed in brother Adam's footsteps by playing water polo. She starred first for the Stoneridge Water Polo Club before switching to the 680 Water Polo Club.
A competitive player whose teams took part in tournaments up and down the state, including Junior Olympics, Hurd earned a varsity spot as a freshman at Cal High and played for the lead team all four years.
As a teen, she worked at the San Ramon Olympic Pool as a lifeguard and swim instructor, and she continued there during summers while home from college, moving up to assistant pool manager.
That teaching background -- plus a love of skiing since age 4 -- inspired her to start working as ski instructor at Mt. Baker Ski Area in Washington as a sophomore. She was promoted to instruction supervisor this winter season.
On campus at Western Washington, she focused her studies on adventure therapy. Ahead of her senior year, she interned with an Alaska state contractor that provided outdoor therapeutic services for troubled youth, including juvenile justice alternatives. She was on track to complete her bachelor's degree in recreation in June.
A moment of silence was held in Maddie Hurd's honor during the San Ramon Valley school board's special meeting Thursday night, with board members offering support for their absent colleague and the entire Hurd family.
"It is with profound sadness that we share that her daughter (Maddie), a 21-year-old California High School graduate was killed in a car accident yesterday. So Rachel wished that we expressed her regrets about being able to attend this evening," Board Vice President Greg Marvel said at the beginning of the board meeting.
"On behalf of the board, the district and district staff, I hope you will join us in expressing our deepest condolences to Rachel and her family. And I am going to take a brief moment for thoughtful reflection and prayer before we start," Marvel said.