Coming to terms with tragedy

In the days after it was announced that former Burbank Unified Supt. Kevin Jolly fell to his death from a bridge in Northern California, disbelief, confusion and sorrow continue to reign.

Jolly, who was pushed out after just six months at Burbank Unified, had barely started his new role as superintendent of a small but struggling school district in Mendocino County. It was the sort of challenge his colleagues said he was apt to take on — turning around a school system rife with problems.

Instead, news of his sudden death sent shockwaves through a community here where tragedy is rarely associated with the realm of education. A lack of information on how the fall happened, especially given that there is a 4 1/2-foot-tall pedestrian barrier along the bridge, only amplified emotions as the public was forced to consider the one of two very tragic likely scenarios.

Jolly left behind a wife and eight children, ranging in age from 2 to a college sophomore. His colleagues described him as eager to take on his new work challenge. He was an avid hiker and outdoorsman, and was familiar with the landscape, having grown up in Humboldt County.


Authorities say they won’t know anything more definite until after a coroner’s toxicology report is completed. But so far, no witnesses have come forward, at least to the media. And without that, it’s hard to see how investigators will be able to determine exactly what happened.

Through the process of elimination, they will no doubt come to some sort of conclusion, but in the end, we must start to accept that we may never know what truly happened. In a situation where little makes sense, that there may never be a final determination means there may never be a true sense of closure.

In that void, all we can do is offer our thoughts and prayers to his family, friends and the colleagues he left behind.