Award-winning teacher dies after being struck by train

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CARBON COUNTY — Larry Litizzette, 56, was hit and killed by a train Saturday afternoon in Spanish Fork Canyon. He was an award-winning and well-respected teacher at Mountain Crest High School in Hyrum.

Litizzette and his son were duck hunting in Spanish Fork Canyon Saturday afternoon, when he was hit and killed by a train.

The Utah County Sheriff's Office said Litizzette was on the tracks when he was hit, then fell 20 feet into the river below.

Litizzette's son pulled him out of the water, according to authorities.

2013 marked his 29th year teaching biology at Mountain Crest High School. His colleagues said when it came to teachers, he was one of the best.

"It's a big loss. It's a really big loss," said Robert Henke, principal at Mountain Crest High School.

The classroom where he taught is filled with some of the things he loved and mementos from the students who loved him in return.

Everything about him was just full of life, a good person. The kids felt it from him, definitely,

–Kris Hart, Mountain Crest High School counselor

Litizzette's fellow educators said they felt shock and sadness after the unexpected and tragic loss of one of their own.

"I had to just stop and pause and look at the classroom. It's hard to believe," Henke said.

His writing is still on the whiteboard from his last class before the Thanksgiving break.

"Just hard to imagine he's not going to be here writing on the board like he's done," Henke said.

Litizzette was a well-respected teacher, who in 2010 won the prestigious Huntsman Awards for Excellence in Education. He's also been named "Teacher of the Year" in separate awards, voted by teachers and students at his school.

Mountain Crest High School counselor Kris Hart said Litizzette inspired many students, including one who became a biology teacher after taking Litizzette's class.

"Everything about him was just full of life, a good person. The kids felt it from him, definitely," Hart said.

Colleagues said he can't be replaced.

"We're just going to miss his smile and great teaching and love for the kids," Henke said. "He's passionate about what he teaches. He loves the subject area and he loves the kids."

Those who knew him well said Litizzette leaves behind a wife and three sons. There will be counselors available at the school tomorrow for teachers and students.

The investigation continues into Litizzette's death, including why he was on the train tracks. According to the Utah County Sheriff's Office, the medical examiner will determine if it was a result of being hit by the train, the fall or drowning.


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