Elementary school principal accused of child endangerment before death
‘I tried to clear my name:’ Principal, 51, jumped to his death at Disneyland parking lot after being arrested for child endangerment and battery when his WIFE called 911 during row at home
- The man who jumped to his death at a Disneyland parking structure on Saturday around 9pm has been identified as an elementary school principal
- Chris Christensen, 51, died after jumping from the Mickey and Friends parking structure just outside the park
- Christensen was the principal of the Newland Elementary School in Huntington Beach, California and had been accused of child endangerment before his death
- If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts or actions, please contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
The man who died at Disneyland after jumping to his death from the Mickey and Friends parking structure has been identified as an elementary school principal who was facing child endangerment charges.
Chris Christensen, 51, took his own life on Saturday night outside of the Anaheim theme park after sharing a detailed post saying that one night of fighting with his wife had ruined his whole life.
The man, who worked at the William T Newland Elementary School in Huntington Beach, died in front of some parkgoers- including children.
Christensen had recently been charged with misdemeanor counts of child endangerment and battery and was expected to appear in court Monday – after his own wife called 911 during a row at home.
Chris Christensen. 51, died Saturday after jumping from a parking structure outside of Disneyland in Anaheim, California
This is the Mickey and Friends parking structure where Christensen died Saturday around 9pm
Christensen shared this picture, alongside his wife Marlena, in his final Facebook post
It’s understood that the principle had an argument with his wife in front of his step-daughters – leading to him being arrested and spending the night in jail.
He said his wife Marlena’s anger ‘got the best of her’ and she called the cops on him, but she ‘truly regrets making that call.’
The principle was ‘on the brink’ of losing his job because of the charges – which he cites as one reason for then taking his own life.
And it’s now been revealed that he was the son of Jim Christensen, a longtime music director for the Disney theme parks.
Christensen wrote on Facebook before his death: ‘I hate when people leave this Earth with so many unanswered questions. So, I hope this provides some insight and perspective.’
The man clarified that the had never hurt his wife, Marlena, or their daughters during the argument, but that the ‘extremely flawed’ legal system was going to end up putting away an ‘innocent man.’
‘Unfortunately, two weeks ago she and I got into a heated argument at home in front of the girls. Tempers were flared and strong words were exchanged between us,’ the man told his friends.
‘However, never in this exchange did I hit, slap, or hurt Marlena in any manner. Nor did I ever touch the girls (I never have and never will). I love the girls like my own and they know that, as does everyone else who truly knows me.
‘I am on the brink of losing my job, as I am out on administrative leave until my case is “resolved.”
Christensen said it was his wife choice to call the police during a heated argument that led to him being placed on administrative leave over charges of battery and child endangerment
The man’s full Facebook post can be seen here, including his mentions of the ‘heated argument’ with his wife and the fact that he was placed on administrative leave
In his final message, Christensen said he planned to spend his last day reaching out to loved ones to tell them how much they mean to him
‘So, here I am…writing my final FB post to all of you. I need you all to know that a gentle, kind, loving and sincerely good man has been destroyed by one unfortunate night,’ Christen wrote.
‘It really is unfortunate! This is NOT me! This is NOT something that I ever thought would happen to me,’ he continued.
Christensen thanked his coworkers, friends, and families for his time with the district and said he loved what he did for 20-plus years.
‘I have truly loved educating and leading thousands of students and families as a principal in FVSD for the past 21+ years,’ he said.
‘I have made so many wonderful connections with families over the years and those who know me closely know how much I cared for my students, staff and families.’
‘Never in this exchange did I hit, slap, or hurt Marlena in any manner. Nor did I ever touch the girls (I never have and never will),’ Christensen wrote in his post
Christensen, according to his post, also spent the day ‘reaching out to those closest’ to him before the fateful incident. He said he told them how much he loved them and would miss them.
‘This is not an ideal way to go out, but at least I get a chance to say some final words to those who I love and adore,’ the post read.
‘Please, please, please be kind to one another! Treat each other with kindness and grace,’ he said, nearing the end of the post, which also contained photos of him and his wife.
‘There is too much anger in the world and people need to start treating each other better. What I’ve shared with you above is a prime example of how “anger” can really have long-lasting and extremely damaging effects on a person’s life.’
A statement from the school district where Christensen worked read: ‘Mr. Christensen has been a respected leader in FVSD for over 20 years’
Earlier in the post, Christensen asked his friends and followers to: ‘Please remember me for all the good I brought to the world of education.’
The Fountain Valley School District where Christensen worked confirmed the news of his death in a statement sent out to families.
‘Mr. Christensen has been a respected leader in FVSD for over 20 years,’ the statement read.
‘His contributions and connections to this community are immeasurable. He was a father, husband, brother, and friend to so many. His passing leaves us devastated and heartbroken.’
Grief counselors are being made available to students and staff, according to the district.
This is the Southern California elementary school where Christensen worked as a principal
Parkgoers on social media witnessed the body placed under a tarp by police as they made their way back to their cars from the park. Some spectators apparently watched the victim fall.
‘Leaving Disneyland and [cast members] were everywhere in the park structures rerouting guests and blocking some areas,’ another Saturday park-goer added. ‘Somebody jump/fell off the Mickey & Friends parking structure and there was a tarp covering the body. Really sad and surreal.’
One photo showed a white easy-up hovered over the body with police investigating nearby.
Some parkgoers saw a tarp covering the body as they left the park
One person said her daughter and other families witnessed the man jump
The man jumped where parkgoers use the escalators
The man didn’t attend the theme park before he jumped off the Mickey and Friends parking structure
People on social media spoke out about the tragedy, including one devastated tram driver.
‘I am a tram driver at Disneyland,’ Matthew Beverleh wrote on Twitter. ‘It was so hard for us and everyone tonight. I am sorry for him and his family… No one deserves to see this but mental health is a real issue. Please check on your family.’
Others spectated that the victim was undergoing a mental health crisis and warned people to be aware of their loved ones who might be suicidal.
‘Someone just jumped from a structure at Disneyland and died, one person wrote. That is truly so awful. I truly hope they are at peace now and felt no pain. And I really hope those who witnessed it get the help they need to navigate such a horrifying experience.’
‘So sad what happened at the Disneyland parking structure. If you or someone you know needs help, reach the national hotline, dial 988. Check up on your friends and family.’
Meanwhile, some urged those struggling with suicidal thoughts to reach out for help.
‘After hearing what happened tonight at Disneyland, please know that you are loved and cared for,’ Landon Ashmore wrote on Twitter. ‘If you ever feel like you are struggling or feel alone, please please try and reach out to a friend, family, or loved one. Know you are never alone.’
People on social media spoke out about the tragedy, including one devastated tram driver
Others responded and urged people to pay attention to suicide warning signs
Others wrote encouraging messages to let people know they aren’t alone
If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts or actions, please contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
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