Woman killed in Seattle boat crash was middle school teacher

by: KIRO 7 STAFF Updated:


The woman who was killed Wednesday night in a Lake Washington boat crash was a middle school biology teacher in Seattle, and was identified by family as Melissa Protz.

Protz, 33, taught six and seventh graders at Assumption-St. Bridget School in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood.

“She loved her family and her dog especially,” her father, John Protz, told KIRO 7 from his home in Wisconsin. “She loved the children she taught with.”

Melissa Protz learned to sail there, and after moving west she loved hiking and backpacking around Seattle. Protz earned her Bachelor of Science in marine biology from James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. She received a master’s degree in teaching from Seattle University.

“I have worked in the science field for many years and realized through those experiences that the best part of my job is sharing the passion I have for the world of science to others,” she wrote in her school biography. “Seeing the excitement in my students' eyes when they finally understand how amazing and important science is and how it is so connected to their lives is such a wonderful moment.”

About 10:30 p.m. a powerboat collided with the sailboat Protz was on. The crash happened about a half mile off the shore of the 400 block of Lake Washington Boulevard.

Seattle police investigators say the power boat, with four people on board, broadsided the sailboat. The driver of the power boat, Richard Hicks, 46, was booked into King County Jail for investigation of vehicular homicide by watercraft. He is expected to have a bail hearing Friday afternoon.

Operators of both boats were investigated for boating under the influence of alcohol, police said. Hicks was the only arrest.

Three of the seven people on the sailboat went into the water, firefighters said. Protz was pinned between the boats and pulled from the water by people on a passing boat that came to help. They gave Protz CPR as they brought her to shore

A man in his 40s and woman in her 20s from the sailboat have serious injuries and were taken to Harborview. Police said Thursday those injuries were not life-threatening.

Protz’s father told KIRO 7 it’s hard to make sense of what happened.

“She was just the most wonderful, giving, loving person.”

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