Elementary School Principal Dead in Apparent Disneyland Suicide
This article has been corrected to reflect that Christopher Christensen had pleaded not guilty before his death.
An elementary school principal died in an apparent suicide after jumping from a multistory parking structure at Disneyland in California, officials said.
Anaheim Police said they found a man dead when they were called to the amusement park just before 9 p.m. on Saturday. On Sunday, the Orange County coroner identified the man as 51-year-old Christopher Christensen, the principal of William T. Newland Elementary School in Huntington Beach . Officials said his death was a suicide.
In a post on his Facebook page, Christensen said he had been placed on administrative leave from his job in the wake of an argument with his wife two weeks ago “which landed me in jail.” Christensen was due in court Monday after pleading not guilty to child endangerment and battery, according to court documents.
“I have made so many wonderful connections with families over the years and those who know me closely know how much I cared for my students, staff and families,” the post read. “Please remember me for all the good I brought to the world of education.”
“Mr. Christensen has been a respected leader in [Fountain Valley School District] for over 20 years,” Fountain Valley Superintendent Katherine Stopp said in an email to the school community, Fox11 reports. “His contributions to this community are immeasurable. He was a father, husband, brother, and friend to so many. His passing leaves us devastated and heartbroken.”
According to a post on his school’s website, Christensen—who referred to himself as “Mr. C”—started as principal this school year.
At the time of the incident on Saturday, Disneyland guests posted on social media to say that trams in the park had been shut down, according to ABC7 . Anaheim police public information officer Sgt. Shane Carringer told the Los Angeles Times that “the man”—later identified as Christensen—did not appear to have entered the park before falling from the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure.
The vast seven-story garage was the largest parking structure in the country when it first opened in 2000. In the years since, several other people have died by suicide after jumping from the structure. Incidents have included the death of a 61-year-old man in 2010, a 23-year-old man in 2012, and a 40-year-old man in 2016.
Christensen is survived by his wife, three children, and two stepchildren.
If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. You can also text or dial 988.