Menlo School counselor, coach killed in boat crash

Michael Harris was the son of former 49ers president Peter Harris

Michael Harris, who worked as counselor and assistant basketball coach at Menlo School, was killed early Sunday morning, Sept. 6, in a boating collision off Catalina Island in Southern California. He was the son of Peter Harris, former president and CEO of the San Francisco 49ers.

Michael Harris graduated from Menlo School in 2008 and returned to his alma mater to work as a counselor and assistant coach for the boys basketball team. He played on the boys basketball team when he was a senior at Menlo. The team won the CCS Division IV title under then-coach Kris Weems, who is the current athletic director at Menlo.

A statement released by the school said:

"Menlo School offers heartfelt condolences to the Harris family on the tragic loss of their son Michael. A graduate of the class of 2008, we were honored to have Michael recently return as a new member of our Upper School counseling team. We knew Michael as a kind-hearted, caring, joyful young man. His enthusiasm for his work was infectious. In his short time in Menlo's counseling department, he already earned great respect from colleagues and students alike.

"The Harris family has longstanding ties to Menlo School. All three of their children (Michael '08, David '10, Richard '12) attended both the Middle and Upper Schools. Jan and Peter were deeply involved in the School community, dedicating their energy and enthusiasm to many School projects and developing strong relationships throughout the campus. A caring community that comes together during trying times, Menlo extends our fullest support and thoughts to the Harris family."

Peter Harris and his wife, Jan, confirmed their son's death in a statement posted Sunday on Peter's Facebook page.

Peter Harris said Michael "died this morning while living his life as he did everyday, with kindness, friendship, love of family, caring for others, having fun, being a friend, and as one of the really good guys."

A good Samaritan reported the collision between a dinghy and another boat about a quarter mile east of Casino Point at about 1:20 a.m., U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Sondra-Kay Kneen said. Three people were injured in the crash and one is still missing, she said. Two of the injured suffered minor injuries and the third suffered a head injury, Kneen said.

Los Angeles County firefighters took the three to the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center for treatment, she said.

Rescuers searched for the missing boater until 7:19 p.m. when they suspended the search pending additional information, Kneen said.

Peter Harris served as president and CEO of the 49ers between 2000 and 2004, according to his LinkedIn profile.

— Palo Alto Weekly, Bay City News Service

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5 people like this
Posted by Laura Rich
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Sep 8, 2015 at 12:39 pm

This is such a tragic loss for the family, the community and those who loved Michael! What a wonderful young man he was. Those of us who knew him are so lucky to have had him in our lives, however briefly. I hope we all wrap our arms around our loved ones and send thoughts of love to Jan and Peter.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2015 at 1:09 pm

What a tremendous loss for his family and community.

I know that holiday boating accidents often involve alcohol. Was alcohol involved in this tragedy? Who is the other missing person?

14 people like this
Posted by menlo parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 9, 2015 at 6:43 pm

You could have just omitted the second sentence !!

10 people like this
Posted by trg
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 9, 2015 at 9:55 pm

To Hmmm, who is not even a resident of this community:
Does alcohol involvement make this any less tragic? And why do you even care who the missing person is?
I agree with the Menlo parent (I too was a Menlo parent)) who expressed my feelings in a kinder way,
you could have omitted the 2nd sentence.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Sep 10, 2015 at 10:04 am

Guess what, those who prefer to deny the impact alcohol has in boating accidents? I'm a Menlo Park NATIVE and where I currently live doesn't matter. How dare you trot out snotty, insular attitudes in an attempt to point fingers at a legitimate question that has bearing on the issue. Not only am I a local, I'm also a boater. Why wouldn't I want to know more? Why wouldn't I want to know the name of the missing person?

To sort of answer your question: Alcohol makes boating accidents more tragic because its use is easily avoidable.

Now here are more questions for you: Why are you so defensive? Why is it that your assumption that I was questioning if the *victims* were drinking alcohol? Lastly - do you think that the results of the investigation won't be released to the public?

2 people like this
Posted by lessons learned
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Sep 10, 2015 at 11:27 am

lessons learned is a registered user.

What I find sad is that this article focuses so much on the father. "He was the son of Peter Harris..." Wait, didn't he have a mother too? Apparently not, though later on, someone named Jan is identified as Peter's wife. Pathetic reporting job all around, still a tragedy.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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