Suicide prevention

• For emergencies call 911 or go to your local emergency room.

• Deschutes County Health Services 24-Hour Crisis Hotline (or to make an appointment): 541-322-7500, ext. 9.

• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255) or www.suicide preventionlifeline.org. Available 24/7.

Ayuda en español llame 888-628-9454.

Hearing and speech impaired, call 800-799-4TTY (4889)

• The Deschutes County Suicide Prevention Alliance seeks to reduce suicide attempts and deaths. The alliance meets quarterly. For more information on the alliance and/or to receive general announcements about suicide prevention, please contact David Visiko at 541-388-6606 or david.visiko@deschutes.org .

David Kurtz, an outdoorsy, multisport athlete from Bend who enjoyed solitude, was known to take off on solo camping trips for several days without telling friends or family where he was going and when he would be back.

That Kurtz, also a popular nordic ski coach at Bend Endurance Academy, was unreachable for a couple days was not uncommon. Yet last month, when an absence stretched from days to weeks, friends organized a social media outreach to locate the 35-year-old Kurtz, and a family member filed a missing person report with the Bend Police Department on Dec. 6.

On New Year’s Eve, loved ones’ worst fears were realized when Kurtz’s body was found near Shevlin Park. He had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The Bulletin usually does not report on suicides, but given that Kurtz was well-known and the focus of a search fueled by social media, and his body was found in a public place, the newspaper chose to report on his death.

Those who knew Kurtz remembered a private man who seemed his happiest when teaching others how to ski — particularly as a nordic ski coach at the academy, where he had worked since 2009.

Kurtz had a passion for skiing, mountain biking and a sense of adventure he shared with those around him. He died sometime after he went missing in early December, according to Sgt. William Bailey of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

On the afternoon of Dec. 31, 2017, a couple hiking with their dog in U.S. Forest Service land west of Shevlin Park found Kurtz after noticing a discarded mountain bike nearby. They made a 911 call at 2:36 p.m. The sheriff’s office responded to the incident because Kurtz was found outside Bend city limits.

Kurtz’s clothing — a hooded sweatshirt, two shirts and jeans — and condition were consistent with him last being seen Dec. 2, Bailey said. Kurtz was identified based on the investigation of the scene and his wallet and ID found on him. Authorities do not suspect foul play. The district attorney’s office will review the case before any final determination will be made.

Bailey was not immediately aware of any previous suicide attempts by Kurtz. In 2017, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office responded to 22 suicides, said Bailey.

Bend Endurance Academy executive director Sandy Visnak declined to comment on Kurtz.

Kurtz had been employed with the academy as a nordic coach and sometimes mountain bike coach since the nonprofit organization was founded in 2009, she said.

The academy, which offers youth development and competition programs dedicated to nordic skiing, mountain biking and climbing, could not immediately recall the date Kurtz last appeared for work.

Kurtz also worked at Bend-based Lay It Out Events, an event company. Luke Larsen, events director, declined to comment on Kurtz beyond describing Kurtz as his “right-hand man” who worked for the company from February through November.

Ron Crawford, an assistant nordic ski coach at Bend High School, remembered Kurtz, who was also an assistant nordic ski coach at the school. In a text message, Crawford described Kurtz’s “intense enthusiasm” for ski coaching.

During races, Kurtz “would seem to just appear out of the woods at the hardest part of the race to cheer on kids,” he wrote.

“During practices, he would pull the new skiers up the long hills if they got too tired. This often led to a train of kids latching on as David happily became a human lift service. His smile and boisterous laughter will be missed.”

Bert Hinkley, a ski technician at Webskis, a Bend-based bike and nordic ski shop, and a veteran ski coach, said Kurtz was a regular at the shop. Hinkley was impressed by Kurtz’s vast knowledge of ski wax nuance.

“It’s like he had a database in his mind of what worked and what didn’t work,” Hinkley said of the waxes that feature varying compounds, each ideal for particular snow conditions.

“He would try things, and even if they didn’t work right away, he could problem-solve, especially with kick waxes,” Hinkley said of the sticky wax applied to classic ski bases, which allows for a forward, “kicking” propulsion. “He was just very intuitive about how to pick the right kick wax for folks.”

When Hinkley glimpsed Kurtz outside the ski shop, he was often skiing with his academy athletes.

Kurtz was a particularly common presence on race day mornings.

“The David Kurtz I saw was the David Kurtz I saw in here,” Hinkley said behind a ski wax bench at Webskis.

“He would be in here with the BEA athletes. He was always a positive-energy guy. … People who worked with him said he was strong, creative, a problem-solver. He was the guy you wanted on your team.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7816, pmadsen@bendbulletin.com

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