Student Leader Dies in Car Crash

By Marcia Goodrich


Jacob "Jake" Parkhurst, a community coordinator and resident in Wadsworth Hall, died Saturday evening in a car accident on US 41 near Copper Harbor, just north of the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.

Parkhurst, 20, of Kent City, was driving north at about 9:30 p.m. when he lost control on the winding road and crossed the center line, according to the Keweenaw County Sheriff's Department. His vehicle struck another car traveling southbound.

Parkhurst died at the scene, and his three passengers were hospitalized. Ryan Harju, 17, of Calumet, and Stephanie Coon, 18, of Houghton, were taken to Keweenaw Aspirus Hospital. Harju was then transported to Marquette General Hospital. A third passenger, Ashley Blaksley, 17, of Laurium, was taken to Portage Health in Hancock and then transported to St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, Wis.

The driver of the second car, Joyce Pietri, of Gold Valley, Ariz., was not hospitalized. Alcohol was not believed to be a factor, and the accident was likely caused by excess speed, according to the sheriff's department.

"I'd known and worked with Jake since he came to Michigan Tech," said Travis Pierce, director of housing and residential life. "He had a larger than life personality; he could walk into a room and brighten up anyone's day. I often called him Sunshine because he could light up the room."

Parkhurst was a talented student leader and a valuable member of the Residence Life team, said Pierce. "His contributions, while short, will live on for many years in the lives of those he touched."

A ceremony of remembrance will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 30, in the West McNair Lounge. Parkhurst's friends and coworkers are encouraged to attend.

Visitation will be held Wednesday, July 1, from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m. at Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, at 13603 Northland Dr., NE, in Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

The funeral service will be held Thursday, July 2, at 11 a.m. at Resurrection Lutheran Church, in Sand Lake. Interment will be in Sand Lake Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Keweenaw Pride and the Tri-County High School Band Boosters. To give to Keweenaw Pride, send a donation to the Michigan Tech Fund at 1400 Townsend Dr., Houghton, MI 49931 and designate it for Keweenaw Pride. Donations to the band boosters may be submitted to the funeral home.

Parkhurst's obituary is posted at

Last Modified 12:35 AM, December 31, 2018

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries around the world. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our beautiful campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.

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