Retired Coeur d’Alene High School teacher and Idaho Hall of Fame basketball coach Dean Lundblad died after jumping from the towering Veterans Memorial Centennial Bridge on Tuesday, according to witnesses.
Lundblad, 78, reportedly parked his truck on the westbound shoulder of the Interstate 90 bridge and climbed over the railing around 5:30 p.m. Two passing motorists reported the apparent suicide.
The bridge spans a valley above Bennett Bay east of Coeur d’Alene. It is about 300 feet high. Lundblad’s death is under investigation by the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office.
Lundblad posted a 344-150 record in 16 seasons coaching the Coeur d’Alene High boys, winning 19 or more games each season. The Vikings qualified for 13 state tournaments and won a state title in 1973. He was inducted into the Idaho Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.
He was a social studies teacher at Coeur d’Alene High from 1968-95.
Lundblad’s son, Kurt Lundblad, starred at the high school in the early 1980s and went on to become Coeur d’Alene High’s boys basketball coach for three seasons (2013-16).
Dean Lundblad was the ex-husband of former Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem.
Friends say he had recently been battling a serious illness.
Former Coeur d’Alene High athletic director Larry Schwenke said Lundblad was a man who always strived to be his best.
“Awesome basketball coach with a great sense of humor,” Schwenke said. “He always loved picking people’s brains. He had so many interests, from traveling to collecting memorabilia. I had much respect for him.”
Jason Rook, a 1995 Coeur d’Alene High graduate, said he enjoyed having Lundblad as a teacher.
“Mr. Lundblad was a funny, laid-back, gregarious guy, but also had a way of commanding your respect without him saying much,” said Rook, a former multisport athlete at Coeur d’Alene. “Maybe that was the old coach in him.
“I always felt like he taught and treated us like mature adults and not high school seniors, so that was unique.”
The event is the latest in a series of school-related tragedies for the Coeur d’Alene community, following on the heels of the death of Coeur d’Alene High principal Troy Schueller, described by school officials as an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, and the death of Coeur d’Alene High School sophomore and football player Jacob Leeder, killed in a two-vehicle crash on Interstate 90 in December.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter