Boat accident victim was a caring family man
Family members on Thursday recall Charles August Sauer Jr., a well-read, quick-witted man, who looked forward to his annual family vacation to Lake Tahoe with his wife, Jan, their two children and close friends.
It was Sauer, 53, who rented a boat on Wednesday afternoon from a Tahoe City marina, where the group — nine in all from the South Bay — would spend the day on the water sightseeing, officials said.
Tragically, the boat trip ended after it skipped over a wake and flipped, dumping all of its passengers into the water one mile off shore. While seven passengers survived, Jan Sauer, a Menlo Park special education teacher, remains missing. The family resides in San Carlos.
Charles Sauer, whom officials said was the driver of the boat, was found floating unconscious in Lake Tahoe’s cold waters with a life jacket strapped around his right arm, authorities said. He was flown from the landing to Barton Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Relatives said Sauer was an intelligent, private man who did consulting work in the South Bay. He was an avid reader with a few college degrees and exhibited a dry sense of humor.
“I’m at a loss for words,” said Tim Mallon, Sauer’s son-in-law. “He was a caring person. He loved his children very much. I don’t know what else to say.”
Mallon said Sauer was expected to visit Pennsylvania next week to visit his 10-month-old grandson for the first time. Sauer had four other grandsons in Texas and a great grandson on the way, Mallon said.
Sauer moved to California from Pennsylvania following a divorce. He married Jan and they have two children who were on board the boat when it flipped over.
With every hour, the prospects become dim in finding Jan Sauer alive but authorities have not given up hope.
“We are still searching and have a lot of shoreline to cover,” said Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini. Preliminary causes for the accident were high speed mixed with high wakes.
Word of the boat accident came to Menlo Park’s Hillview Middle School officials on Thursday morning and the fact that two of the school’s teachers, Jan Sauer and Daria Finstead, were aboard. Finstead, along with her husband and two children, survived.
“We’re all very shocked,” said Sandy Walsh, the school’s secretary. “We have a phone tree of teachers who are all waiting for an official word.”
Sauer has worked for the Menlo Park City School district since 1987 and at Hillview since 1989. Principal Michael Moore described Sauer as a quiet teacher who goes above and beyond her duty when it comes to working with children with special needs.
“She not only works closely with the students but with their parents. She is very involved,” Moore said.
Involved and committed, added Walsh, who has known Sauer for eight years.
“She is a very good teacher, very concerned and very passionate about her work,” Walsh said. “She is one to always smile and to be upbeat.”
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