Walla Walla University Student Dies in SCUBA Outing

Shari Booth

Shari Booth

[May 29, 2008] Walla Walla University

Shari Booth, a Walla Walla University freshman biology major from Brush Prairie, Washington, is feared dead after she was reported missing following a dive with her Advanced SCUBA class May 19. Searchers suspended recovery efforts two days later.

"Our campus is devastated by this news," university president John McVay said. "We would ask an interest in your prayers on behalf of Shari's mother, other family members, and her many friends here at Walla Walla University."

Officials immediately initiated a search-and-rescue operation after receiving a report, employing several teams of divers, including the Coast Guard and the United States Navy, in the search. Their efforts continued until nightfall on Monday, and resumed early Tuesday morning.

The dive took place in Rosario Bay, the location of WWU's Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory near Anacortes, Washington. The group had traveled to Rosario for a three-day diving trip.

On campus students, staff, and faculty gathered Monday and Tuesday evenings for prayer vigils in Conard Chapel. Counseling staff made themselves available to those needing their services.

Booth was a freshman biology major from Brush Prairie, Wash.

Walla Walla University held a Student Celebration of Life for Shari Booth on Wednesday, May 28, in the University Church.

A memorial service was also held Saturday, May 24, at the Meadowglade Seventh-day Adventist Church in Battleground, Wash.

A blog has been created with photos and information about Shari. Condolences for friends and family and memories of Shari can be posted at the blog: http://rememberingshari.blogspot.com

Shari, who was 19, was a biology freshman and a 2007 graduate of Columbia Adventist Academy in Battleground.

She is being remembered by friends and family as a person who lived life to the fullest.

"She was all about the experience," says Lindsay Kelstrom, Shari's roommate and friend since childhood. "She was a very fun person."

Among her many hobbies, which included four-wheeling, playing games, watching movies, traveling, and going to the beach, her love of horses was especially strong.

Her family recalls Shari as always "wanting the toughest horse," using her horsemanship skills to win competitions with horses that others might have considered too challenging. When she came to Walla Walla, Shari brought her horse, "Rooster," with her, boarding him close to the university so she could feed him his oats every evening.

Her family recalls that Shari loved life with her whole heart and loved to share Jesus.

"She was the most wonderful, talented, and beautiful person you could ever meet," her mother says.

Shari held a unique connection to the Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory. Her grandfather, Ernest Booth, was a key player in the acquisition of the property for WWU in 1954.

"Ernest Booth was a visionary. He took a chance and look what Walla Walla has because of him," says Marsha Booth, Shari's mother. "Shari was the same way. She was a visionary."

The Booth family has called the Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory their favorite place on earth.