The Mark Keppel High School community in Alhambra grieved Monday for the loss of one of their own, after senior Esther Suen fell to her death Friday while hiking with friends in Eaton Canyon. Suen, 17, was hiking to the second waterfall in the popular wilderness canyon in northeast Pasadena with three classmates when she and one of her companions fell 200 feet down a cliff. Suen sustained head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident happened while the students were on spring break, and MKHS students returning to school Monday posted messages of support on social media and set up a memorial at the head of the Eaton Canyon trail. Students also gathered after school in the auditorium and at the trail to mourn their fallen classmate.
“The whole community of Mark Keppel is mourning the loss of Esther,” Alhambra Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Marsha Gilbert said. “She had friendships across all grade levels. She was just a really fine individual.” Suen, an academic high-flyer, was also Junior Olympic diver for her club team Arrow Dive Club in El Monte, and led the MKHS Swim and Dive Team to three consecutive CIF championships. Deliang Li, an Olympic medalist who has been Suen’s private diving coach at Arrow Dive Club since she was 7, said she was a “hard worker” who also motivated others. Suen had been accepted to multiple Ivy League colleges including Cornell and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Friend and senior class president Lia Lee said in a speech to her peers Monday that Suen was involved in United Sciences and was a part of the Science Olympiad team.
Suen’s family thanked supporters for their “condolences and prayers” on a “R.I.P. Esther Suen” Facebook page set up in Suen’s memory Monday, but stressed that they wished to “keep the matter close to the family.”
1LAW would like to extend its thoughts to the family of the victim. We would also like to urge everyone who is going to go hiking to please be aware of were you are hiking.