Two Local Teens Die in Separate Accidents

Posted

Two teenagers died on the Key Peninsula June 28 just a few hours and a few miles apart in unrelated accidents.

Will Huck of Port Orchard, 17, drowned in Horseshoe Lake at approximately 3:15 p.m.

Caleb Wanaka of Vaughn, 17, died in a one-car accident on Bliss-Cochrane Road at approximately 9:15 p.m. Three other teens were injured.

South Kitsap paramedics responding to the lake found that bystanders had pulled Will from the water and were attempting to resuscitate him. He was taken to a Tacoma hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Horseshoe Lake is a 39-acre park on the north end of the Key Peninsula managed by Kitsap County Parks. There are no lifeguards.

Will had just graduated from Vashon Island High School. He received several scholarships and planned to attend the University of New Hampshire to study sports journalism. 

More than 400 people attended a vigil June 30 at Whisky Gulch CoffeePub, the Port Orchard restaurant owned by Will’s father, Chuck, where Will was a server.

Mourners released 17 orange lanterns onto Sinclair Inlet during the vigil. Will died two weeks short of his 18th birthday.

Caleb and three friends were riding in the bed of a pickup truck near Vaughn when the driver lost control and struck a tree. The driver was wearing a seat belt; the four others were thrown from the vehicle. Caleb died of his injuries; the three injured teens, all 16 or 17 years old, were transported to area hospitals, one in serious condition.

Speed may have been a factor but there was no sign the driver was impaired, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

Caleb just finished his junior year at Peninsula High School, where he was a star athlete, playing both basketball and baseball. He was named a first-team infielder on the 4A South Puget Sound League all-league team in the 2021 spring season.

PHS Principal Joe Potts sent an email to school families June 29 that read in part: “The death of a student affects the entire Peninsula School District community, and we send our deepest expressions of sympathy to the student’s parents, family and friends.” There was also an invitation for any PHS student to contact the school counselors.

A July 9 memorial for Caleb at the PHS baseball field drew more than 800 people.


UNDERWRITTEN BY NEWSMATCH/MIAMI FOUNDATION, THE ANGEL GUILD, ROTARY CLUB OF GIG HARBOR, ADVERTISERS, DONORS AND PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT LOCAL, INDEPENDENT NONPROFIT NEWS