Student-athlete’s drowning stuns Palisade community

Flowers and candles are placed as a memorial to Gabriel “Gabe” Hellmann.

Hardworking and unassuming, Palisade’s Gabriel Hellmann was the type of student whom teachers loved and coaches adored, those who worked with Hellmann said Sunday.

Hellmann, who also went by “Gabe,” drowned Saturday in a private pond on East Orchard Mesa. He was 17.

Hellmann’s death was ruled accidental, the Mesa County Coroner’s Office said Sunday in a news release.

Hellmann would have been a senior this fall at Palisade High School, where he played varsity baseball and basketball and was an honors student.

“He was just a kid who was always on the forefront of many things,” Palisade Principal Matt Diers said. “It’s a real shame for the whole community.”

Hellmann’s parents, Steve and Tori Hellmann, are teachers at Palisade High School.

The Hellmann family is a close-knit group of “solid” people, Palisade boys basketball coach Steve Phillips said. The death of Gabe Hellmann, the youngest of three children, is “a tough situation” and a “huge loss,” Phillips added.

The adjectives Phillips used to describe Hellmann were numerous Sunday.

He was “very respectful, ideal to coach,” Phillips said. “He was a great teammate, a hard worker, a great student.” He was “the epitome of what a student-athlete should be.”

In anticipation of the grief those in the Palisade community may have, the high school set up a counseling line today at 254-4803.

In addition, people are invited to contribute to a memory book that will be set up from 4 to 7 p.m. today at the school.

People are welcome to write about Hellmann in the book that will be given to his family.

Hellmann died Saturday after he went into the water to retrieve a dropped fishing pole. He was in a kayak on the pond just west of 499 34 3/4 Road.

Hellmann enjoyed fishing, Phillips remembered from previous conversations with the teen.

Witnesses said Hellmann resurfaced once after he entered the water for his pole, but then disappeared, Mesa County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Mary Gonzales said.

Hellmann’s body was found at 7 p.m. Saturday, nearly four hours after authorities were dispatched to the scene, at a depth of 22 feet in water that was roughly 65 degrees, the Coroner’s Office said.

The Mesa County Search and Rescue Dive Team recovered the body.


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