A San Francisco teacher known for sharing his love of science and nature with students has died after going missing last month while dirt bike riding in El Dorado County, San Francisco Superintendent Richard Carranza said today.
Ed Cavanaugh, 46, a teacher at the San Francisco Unified School District’s Downtown High School, went missing on July 17, according to school and El Dorado County sheriff’s officials.
“Our community has experienced a devastating loss,” Carranza said today.
However, El Dorado County sheriff’s Lt. Tom Murdoch said today that because of the condition of the remains of the male body found during a search effort on Tuesday, a positive identification of the deceased is not possible until a pathologist completes an autopsy.
On Tuesday, a man’s body was reported at 11:20 a.m. by a member of a search effort led by Cavanaugh’s family who spotted it near a motorcycle matching the description of his bike, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office.
The family, which with friends had organized an extensive search for Cavanaugh in conjunction with local officials, issued a statement through the sheriff’s office thanking the many people who have volunteered their time and donated to an online fundraiser supporting the effort.
“It truly is a testament to Ed’s extraordinary spirit and beautiful soul,” the statement read. “Ed has touched so many lives in countless ways. We hope all who love Ed find comfort in knowing that his bright spirit is with us all during this heartbreaking time.”
Cavanaugh began teaching with the district in 2001 and had worked at Downtown High School for 13 years, “where he taught youth who face tremendous challenges in their lives,” Carranza said.
Cavanaugh taught math and science integrated with outdoor education at the continuation high school, according to SFUSD spokeswoman Gentle Blythe.
He was preparing to return to school to teach in the fall.
Cavanaugh was last seen riding a blue Yamaha YZ 250 on the Rock Creek trail system on his way back to a cabin he owns on Darling Ridge, according to sheriff’s officials and information that his sister, Debbie Cavanaugh Schultz, posted to her Facebook page.
A search of his cabin revealed that his truck was parked outside, the cabin was locked and the lights were still on but his dirt bike was not there, according to the page.
His camping gear was still at his cabin and according to the post, it was not typical for him to take off for a period of time without letting someone know of his whereabouts.
Although in good health, Cavanaugh was diabetic, according to family and friends.
Carranza said Cavanaugh had forged a strong partnership with the outdoor ropes course in Land’s End where he brought students, many of whom eventually had the opportunity to become hired members of the ropes course staff.
“Ed did what all of us in education hope to do — he changed many lives for the better. His students and colleagues speak to his enduring enthusiasm for teaching and his dogged commitment to his students,” Carranza said.
“They describe him as a very kind and charismatic person who was also very persistent — students knew that there was someone who would never give up on them. He also had a great sense of humor that uplifted all those around him.”
Carranza said the school district is planning a time when students and staff will be able to come together to celebrate and remember Cavanaugh.
Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News