Aspen High community heartbroken by student’s accidental death

Carson Clettenberg, 17, was about to enter his senior year at AHS

Aspen High School's Carson Clettenberg plays against Steamboat Springs on April 10, 2021, on the AHS turf.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The Aspen School District community is mourning the loss of a high school student who died accidentally on Thursday.

Carson Clettenberg, 17, was about to enter his senior year at Aspen High School.

Pitkin County Coroner Dr. Steve Ayers said the cause of death was believed to be a “traumatic injury apparently related to a fallen tree.” The Pitkin County coroner’s and sheriff’s offices are jointly investigating the incident, which happened at a ranch property off Owl Creek Road, he said.

Superintendent David Baugh and Aspen High School Principal Sarah Strassburger sent an email on Friday to district families, supporters, faculty and staff about the tragedy.

“As you may have heard, one of our families suffered the tragic loss of a child yesterday,” the email said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with this family. It was a tragic and unexpected death. There is no way to describe it except as a startling and unforeseeable accident.”

Baugh and Strassburger urged parents to keep an open dialogue with their children and added the district is providing counseling now and into next week when school begins.

“In a small and tightly knit community like ours, the repercussions are felt, and felt deeply,” the email said. “Many parents and children are struggling with this sudden and unexpected loss. Please know we are here for your children even though we are not yet in session. Grief counselors are currently on site and available for staff and student athletes.”

Kindergartners through high school seniors start class for the 2022-23 academic year on Wednesday.

Baugh and Strassburger said they’ll have an update next week on how Aspen High School will be approaching the first few days of school. Clettenberg was a student-athlete and member of the Skiers’ football team, which starts its season Aug. 26 at home against Gunnison.

“We will have trained counselors on site and available on Wednesday for those children who may need help and support — we will contact you if your children reach out to us,” the email said. “And, in that vein, if your child is struggling, please let us know. The high school will communicate on Monday to the AHS community about what the first few days will look like.”