- WND - http://www.wnd.com -

Beloved pastor dies snowboarding at Lake Tahoe

Craig and Mary Jutila (Facebook)

A pastor who was enjoying a snowboarding trip with his family in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California died of a heart attack Dec. 26 while on the slopes.

Craig Jutila, 53, of the Venture Christian Church in Los Gatos, California, was found unresponsive along the Powderhorn ski run at the Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort.

“This sudden and terrible news has stunned us all, and we are grieving with Craig’s family,” wrote senior pastor Tim Lundy in a statement on the church’s website.

“Please keep his wife, Mary, as well as their kids, Alec, Cameron and Karimy in your prayers. Their loss is immeasurable and we want to surround them with love and prayer.

Mary and Craig Jutila, in one of their final photos before his death Dec. 26, 2018 (Facebook)

“Craig’s leadership as Pastor of Family Ministries has made such a difference at Venture. His writing and speaking ministry to families has helped countless homes and lives around the world. Already stories of his impact are pouring in. He will be missed as a pastor, leader and teacher, but most of all, as our friend. This news is so hard to believe, as just a couple of days ago he was hosting all our Christmas services. Now he is gone.”

Craig’s wife of 27 years, Mary Jutila, said on Facebook: “The love of my life Craig Jutila has gone to be with Jesus very suddenly. We are shocked and devastated but not without hope knowing that he is with Jesus in heaven. Thank you for your prayers and kind messages. We appreciate hearing how he touched so many lives.”

She described her husband on Facebook as “an amazing athlete.”

“I wanted to clear up the cause of his death,” she said. “We got the autopsy results back today [Dec. 28] and it confirmed that there was no trauma … he did not have a snowboarding accident. He died of a heart attack. He was not being reckless in any way, in fact he was going slow to ski with me and I believe he was waiting for me to catch up (as usual) because of where I found him.”

Craig Jutila and family on a previous ski trip to Washington in January 2018 (Facebook)

The family scheduled two celebrations of Craig’s life.

The first was held New Year’s Eve at the Venture church, with the second slated for Saturday, Jan. 5, at The Grove in Riverside, California.

“He went big his whole life AND we will do the same for him. Thank you for all your kind words AND especially Craig stories and pictures,” Mary Jutila┬ásaid.

Follow Joe on Twitter @JoeKovacsNews