The local baseball community is offering condolences and support to Murrieta resident Matt Parker whose wife and daughter were killed in an automobile accident on June 28. Parker is Fallbrook High School’s baseball coach.
“We’re going to help him any way we can,” said Fallbrook Union High School District superintendent Tom Anthony. “Just got to support the guy and hopefully he’ll come out of it okay.”
Parker was coaching a club team in an Arizona tournament when the fatal accident occurred. The trip east was also an opportunity to visit Parker’s parents, who live in Needles, and his wife’s parents, who live in Lake Havasu. Parker’s wife and daughter were traveling separately from him and departed prior to the conclusion of the tournament.
The single-vehicle accident that killed Kari and Keira Parker occurred at approximately 11 a.m. on Interstate-10, 29 miles east of the California state line.
Harold A. Sanders, spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety said the vehicle was traveling along the freeway when the drive Kari Parker, 34, lost control for some unknown reason, which caused the vehicle to swerve to the right, then left, then off the roadway, rolling over into the dirt depressed median. During the roll-over, 2-year-old Keira Parker was ejected from the vehicle.
Kari Parker was wearing a safety belt, but was killed as a result of the severe damage to the interior of the vehicle and the injury trauma sustained. Keira was not in or was improperly restrained in the child safety seat, Sanders said.
A complete report is not expected for six to eight weeks.
“Such a sad scenario; I feel so bad for him,” Anthony said.
“Matt and his family are loved by the Fallbrook community and everybody’s really devastated by this,” said Fallbrook High School athletic director John Hayek. “I know Matt will certainly feel the support of this community.”
The Parker family resided in Murrieta. Kari taught at Chaparral and Great Oak high schools in Temecula before the birth of Keira, who was almost 2 when she was killed.
After the birth of her daughter, Kari worked with the homeschool study program of Julian Charter School. “[This has] affected many of her students,” said Fallbrook High School assistant baseball coach Gary Carter.
A memorial service for Kari and Keira will be held at 10 a.m. July 14 at Cornerstone Community Church in Wildomar. The church is located at 34570 Monte Vista Drive off the Baxter exit from Interstate 15.
“They’re two people who are going to be greatly missed by all of us, and it’s difficult for a lot of people that knew them,” Carter said.
Scholarship funds in Kari and Keira’s names are being implemented; contributions to those funds are recommended in lieu of flowers. Sympathy cards and other condolences may be sent to Parker care of Fallbrook High School.
“I think the best thing we can do right now is just pray for the families,” Carter said.
Parker began his Fallbrook High School baseball career as a co-coach with Jay Craven and became the singular head coach after Craven stepped down. Parker led the Warriors to the CIF Division I finals in 2004 and 2006.
“Matt is a very well-recognized baseball coach throughout the baseball community, and I don’t mean just in Fallbrook,” Carter said.
Carter noted that condolences were being provided from throughout the state. “When a man has his wife and child taken from him, you don’t have to know him,” Carter said. “Everybody feels for that situation.”
Parker had accepted a position as the principal of a school in Needles. He had applied for a leave of absence from the Fallbrook Union High School District; a leave of absence rather than a resignation allows for a possible return after one year. The leave of absence had been granted and interviews for a new baseball coach had been scheduled for June 29. The interviews have been cancelled and the search for a new coach has been postponed.
“Everybody’s been touched,” Carter said. “We’re all praying that something helps to get him back on his feet.”
Carter noted a feeling of helplessness but believes Parker will benefit from the support of the local baseball and high school communities. “I know the Fallbrook community will be there for him,” he said.
“I just feel bad for the family, and we’ll support Matt in any which way we can and get him through it,” Anthony said.
Scholarship funds are being implemented in memory of Kari and Keira; contributions to those funds are recommended in lieu of flowers. Sympathy cards and other condolences may be sent to Parker care of Fallbrook High School.
Donations to the scholarship funds may be sent to either of the following addresses:
• Kari Sue and Keira Lyn Parker Memorial Scholarship Fund, Needles Community Scholarship Committee, Attn: Janice Baker, 1900 Erin Dr., Needles, CA 92363
• Kari Sue and Keira Lyn Parker Memorial Scholarship Fund, Julian Charter Schools, c/o Larry & Barbara Hanson, 2539 Putt Ln., Lave Havasu City, AZ 86406