Teenager dies in sledding accident at Sunday River

David Kohlhase, 18.
Courtesy photo
David Kohlhase, 18.

One teenager died and another was seriously injured in a sledding accident at Sunday River in Maine, authorities said Wednesday.

Deputy Chief Hart L. Daley of the Oxford County sheriff’s office said deputies responded to the ski resort about 2 a.m. after the two teens went off the trail and crashed into a tree. They were both riding an inflatable tube-style sled, Daley said.

The 18-year-old boy died from the injuries he sustained in the accident, and the 17-year-old boy suffered a serious injury and was taken to a medical facility for treatment, Daley said.


Both teenagers are from New Hampshire.

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Portsmouth High School principal Mary Lyons identified the victim who died as David Kohlhase, a senior at the school. In a letter to the school community, Lyons did not identify the other teen.

Kohlhase’s stepmother, Meghan Jameson, described him as “an incredibly intelligent and good kid” who enjoyed playing basketball. He was also an avid tuna fisherman.

David Kohlhase, a senior at Portsmouth High School, was a skilled tuna fisherman.

Last year, he caught 13 tuna, and he was on his way to get his captain’s license, she said. He wanted to be a commercial tuna fisherman when he finished high school, Jameson said.

“He was a good all-around kid,” Jameson said during a phone interview. “The family is very heartbroken.”


Wednesday afternoon, the family was still trying to piece together what happened, she said.

Kohlhase, along with four of his friends, was staying at a family condo at the ski resort when the accident happened. His father, also named David, has been a pass-holder at Sunday River for more than 20 years, she said.

“It was kids being kids,” Jameson said.

His friends tried to resuscitate him after the crash, she said.

David leaves three siblings — Danielle, 33, Lucas, 21, and Madison, 10 — along with his father, David Sr., and his mother, Gina, Jameson said.


Tyler McLaughlin, a tuna fisherman who was featured on the National Geographic show “Wicked Tuna,” said he watched Kohlhase grow up on Rye Harbor. He said Kohlhase had a work ethic many teens lack. He was willing to get up early to go fishing and weather rough seas.

Kohlhase’s tuna haul last year was “very impressive,” he said.

The teenager was passionate about fishing but also capable, McLaughlin said; he would think nothing of taking his father’s 36-foot boat 30 miles out from shore.

“A lot of people try to go fishing, but not everybody figures it out,” McLaughlin said. “He had it.”

Kohlhase, he said, was “just a great kid.”

“He had the biggest heart in the world,” McLaughlin said. “They always take the good ones.”

The investigation into the accident is ongoing, Daley said.

Darcy Lambert, a spokeswoman for the ski resort, said the fatal accident occurred on Tempest trail. She said in an e-mail she did not know for sure how the pair accessed the trail, “but presumably they would have had to hike up the trail.”

Sledding is not permitted on any part of the mountain, according to the resort’s website.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.