Weekly Feature

2018-05-17 / Front Page

LMS teacher mourned by district after boating accident claims life

by ALAN RIZZO AND AMY ROBB Reporter and Editor

Przykuta Przykuta Educators, students and the wider Lancaster Central community are mourning the loss of Eric Przykuta, a science teacher at Lancaster Middle School who died Saturday evening during a fishing accident at Buffalo’s Small Boat Harbor, according to a district release.

Przykuta, who also served as president of the Lancaster Central Teachers Association, was 43.

Two other men with Przykuta were off-duty Lancaster policemen Shaun Zaffram and Michael Cronin, according to a source within the Lancaster Police Department.

Officials with the U.S. Coast Guard could not release details regarding the accident since it is still a pending investigation, but Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Gris commented on general safety when it comes to boating at this time of year.

“The Coast Guard is very concerned that everybody who is using the water does so in a safe manner. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and aware of the weather and the water temperature, and the other boaters that are in your area,” said Gris.

“The water in the lake is still particularly cold. We’ve got daytime temperatures coming up to near the 70-degree mark, but the water temperatures are still in the high 40s to low 50s. When you enter water that is that cold, that can make things more difficult.”

The Bee did not hear back from the Buffalo Police Department regarding the investigation as of press time.

According to a joint statement released Sunday by the district and LCTA, Przykuta had taught seventh-grade science at LMS for nearly 20 years, coached boys modified lacrosse, and was active in the community and youth activities.

He also served as president of the LCTA for 10 years and was honored with a leadership award by the New York State United Teachers.

District and LCTA leaders who mourned his loss in the statement called him a respected leader and educator and a selfless advocate for students.

“Eric always put others before himself,” wrote Donald Kirsch, vice president of the LCTA. “He was the first to show up for anyone in need. His passion for the teachers and students of Lancaster was unmatched. He was a true friend and we will miss him.”

Peter Kruszynski, principal at LMS, said Przykuta was highly respected for his advocacy work as a teacher and coach at the middle school and by teachers and administrators throughout the district in his role as president of the LCTA.

Superintendent Michael Vallely said he and Przykuta had “a great, great relationship that had a mutual foundation of respect and trust.” “I’ll miss him greatly,” he wrote.

District officials noted that grief counselors and other emotional support staff were made available to students and staff at LMS and Lancaster High School on Monday.

Vallely expressed thanks to neighboring districts for providing additional counseling support.

Arrangements for a wake to be held at the Wendel & Loecher funeral home, 27 Aurora St., are under way. A memorial service for Przykuta will be held in the auditorium at LHS at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

The LCTA will also be making arrangements to honor Przykuta.

Przykuta is survived by his wife, Lori; children Landyn and Emersyn; his brother, Aaron; and his parents, Dennis and Diana.

Return to top