MOSIER, Ore. – The 7-year-old boy who died when the truck his dad was driving slid on ice and crashed into the Columbia River Monday had a smile that was well-known in the Clackamas community.
Background: Truck crashes into river
Scene photos: Truck into Columbia River
That’s because John Arntson has coached baseball and football at Clackamas High School for the past 17 years. And anyone who goes to the games has seen his son Jake running around the field, usually with a big grin on his face.
Clackamas Athletic Director Jeff Erdman said what he remembers most about Jake was his zest for life and his love for the teams his dad coached.
“He drags the field after practice. He’s always running around during the games. He got a little motorized bike last year and he would ride it until his battery died,” Erdman told KGW. “He was just part of the family.”
Students at Clackamas High know Jake’s dad as a coach and also a social studies teacher. His students had special nicknames for Jake – they affectionately called him “little man” or “little brother.”
Even though school was out this week, students and staff have already created a memorial for little Jacob Arntson behind home plate at the Clackamas baseball diamond.
A touching tribute to a young boy and the family he left behind.
“It’s terrible, but we’re definitely there to support them,” said Principal Christine Garcia. “It’s terrible. I can’t imagine losing a child. I have two and I can’t imagine anything worse than that.”
John and Jake Arntson were on their way home to Clackamas, after spending the holidays in Montana, when their pickup truck hit a patch of ice and plunged into the Columbia River Monday afternoon. John was able to escape but he could not save Jake.
Jake’s big sister, Rylee and his mom, Tracy were not in the truck at the time of the crash.
Now the entire Clackamas community is sharing in the Arntson family’s grief.
“When he was born seven years ago, he was born into the ball-playing family,” Erdman said. “The players, parents, everyone loved Jakie.”
The Arntson family said the support from the community is helping them deal with their tragic loss. They released a statement Tuesday that said even though Jake was just 7 years old, he had already brought so much light into the world and touched so many lives as a friend and classmate.
"He was a wonderful child, and we miss him so much," the family statement said. "Our family has felt your support and your love during these difficult hours. Your caring means more to us than we can say, and we are so grateful. We know you join us in honoring Jake's memory, remembering his bright eyes and big smile."