• Salem math teacher dies in equestrian accident

    By: Drew Karedes

    Updated:

    SALEM, Mass. - Parents whose kids attend Bentley Academy Charter School were saddened by the notification they got Tuesday, informing them that one of their teachers died after a freak equestrian accident.

    "My heart was broken," said Dianny Guerrero, a parent of three kids at the school.

    The emails that went out sent shockwaves and heartbreak through the Salem charter school community. Parents and students told Boston 25 News they were looking forward to seeing fourth-grade math teacher Jennifer "Jeffies" Chapin next week for the start of the new school year

    "Friendly, loving teacher and very caring for the kids," Guerrero said. "Her passion, her heart was teaching, and for the kids that was her priority."

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    Chapin died after an equestrian accident on Sunday at the Green Mountain Horse Association's Festival of Eventing in South Woodstock, Vermont. Organizers say Chapin and her horse suffered a rotational fall while warming up before the cross-country phase of the competition.

    A statement sent to Boston 25 News from Salem Superintendent Kathleen Smith reads as follows:

    During her time with the district, Ms. Chapin had a positive, lasting impact on her colleagues and students that will not be forgotten.

    The school also sent an email that went out to parents:

    Jeffie's colleagues described her as a dedicated teacher who went above and beyond to inspire her students.

    The freak accident that ended the 32-year-old's life and the risk of the equestrian sport known as "Eventing" are now under the microscope. 

    The CEO of the United States Eventing Association also gave a statement to Boston 25 News: 

    The United States Eventing Association was devastated to learn of the death of one of our members Jennifer "Jeffie" Chapin. She and her horse suffered a fall while warming up before the cross-country phase of competition at the Green Mountain Horse Association's Festival of Eventing on August 11 in South Woodstock, Vermont. The USEA Board of Governors and the USEA Safety Committee are working with the United States Equestrian Federation (the governing body of equestrian sport) to learn as much as we can about this tragic death. The USEA Board is meeting this week and Jeffie's loss is a central part of our discussion. We will be remembering her, but also working diligently on how to prevent future tragedies. Jeffie's death is the second rider fatality at USEA recognized competitions in the last decade. The USEA and others in the United States and internationally have worked to reduce risk in the sport of eventing extensively over the previous 20 years. We are working to extend those efforts to reach beyond the field of competition to warm-up as well as practice and training at home. Our sincere condolences are with Jeffie's family, friends, and for all of those impacted by her death. The sport of eventing is a tight knit community and losing one of our own cuts deeply.

    Chapin, a native of Wenham, leaves behind a husband and a grief-stricken extended family across the area. Boston 25 News was told the 12-year-old thoroughbred she was riding was not hurt in the accident.

    The school district encourages anyone in need of additional support to contact Bentley Academy's main office.

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