Even though 12-year-old Emerson Thompson may no longer be here, his art will live on.
Over the weekend, the Silverdale Boy Scout was killed in a hiking accident in Jefferson County.
Although his death was sudden and tragic, those in the community wanted to remember him as the bright-eyed, beautiful artist that he was in life.
“I certainly can say he was a wonderful artist and participated in our program fully,” said Ruth Harris, owner of KitsapArt School of the Arts.
Thompson was a student at the location where fine art skills are taught in a classroom setting. Harris recalled Thompson creating art that included a dragon, which she called “one of his favorites” and an acrylic painting of a salmon. He started taking classes at the location in the fall.
“It’s a very sad thing for everybody, and he was a really sweet guy; a wonderful young man,” said Harris.
Despite Thompson’s passing, Harris noted that his family still wished for his art work to be showcased at a May 3 art show.
“He was a beautiful kid,” Harris said.
The accident happened on Saturday while Thompson was out with Boy Scout Troop 1587, Orca District on a camping trip.
“This was a tragic accident and there were no signs of foul play,” Jefferson County Sheriff’s Chief Criminal Deputy Joe Nole stated in a press release.
While out playing, four Boy Scouts were near a sloping boulder field and found a large log to roll down the slope. As the log began to roll, it hooked onto Thompson’s jacket and rolled over him, according to Nole.
The log was estimated to be about two feet in diameter. Thompson’s older brother was one of the Scouts at the scene, and he stayed with his brother as the other Scouts went for help. Thompson’s father, a Navy physician, briefly tried to resuscitate his son, Nole said.
Nole noted the area, near Lena Lake, is a popular hiking destination within the Olympic National Forest. On average, there are between 10 to 15 search and rescue missions per year, mostly inside the forest.
“We have never responded to an accident like this one,” Nole noted.
Thompson was part of a Kitsap County Boy Scout group made up of four adults and 10 scouts who had hiked to the area on Friday.
Authorities were notified by a personal locater beacon (PLB) that had been activated at Lena Lake. Agencies involved included the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson Search and Rescue, Jefferson County Department of Emergency Management, Mason County Sheriff’s Office, Mason County Fire and Rescue and Olympic Mountain Rescue.
According to the press release, Thompson died at the scene.
“I want to thank everyone who has reached out to us,” Emerson Thompson’s father, Rick Thompson, wrote on his Facebook wall. “We have felt loved and supported and I appreciate every one of you. Keep the prayers coming, we feel them all day long. Forgive me in advance if I can’t respond to you personally.”
Grief counselors were on site for staff and students at Emerald Heights Elementary where Thompson was a student, said RandaLyn Novick, Central Kitsap School District spokeswoman.
“We did send a letter home with students yesterday. Of course when something like this happens, we bring in support staff in from other schools,” she said Tuesday. “They’ll have that support staff available over the next few weeks.”
Novick also noted that a staff meeting was held at the beginning and end of the day Monday to brief educators regarding the accident.
Family friends also set up an online fundraiser to raise money for the family to travel to Utah for his funeral once the local memorial is over, stated The Thompson Family Fund Go Fund Me website.
More than $15,000 was raised within a day of the fundraiser being posted online. The family asks that further donations be made in Emerson’s name to Stand Up For Kids, a charitable organization that works with homeless children. The organization has a local program in Bremerton and the Thompsons have done service projects in the past with Stand Up For Kids.