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Even in Death, SMHS Graduate Provided Life

First published in the Dec. 9 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.

He had a penchant for Russian literature, created time-lapse videos of constellations, wrote his bachelor’s thesis on quantum computation, enjoyed frequent hikes to alluring destinations throughout California and made rollicking films out of the humdrum.
That passionate, creative existence ended on Aug. 6 for Andreas Kooi, a 2016 graduate of San Marino High School, when he was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver while riding his bicycle in San Luis Obispo. He was 23.

Prosecutors are considering myriad charges against the driver, who was not identified because she was a minor at the time of the incident. Possible charges include fleeing the scene of an accident, driving under the influence of alcohol, grave bodily injury, vehicular manslaughter and gross negligence. The suspect remains in custody.
“The court is still trying to figure out whether to try her in juvenile or adult court,” said Jacob Kooi, Andreas’s father. “There are a lot of hearings, but no decision has been made.”
Andreas Kooi attended San Marino schools beginning at Carver Elementary through SMHS, where he was acknowledged for Outstanding Achievement in Architecture in 2016 and was a member of the Mountain Biking Club, ACTS Christian Club and Titanian Yearbook.
Kooi graduated cum laude from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2021 with a degree in physics and had recently been accepted into Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he was to enter a master’s program in business analytics. According to one social media site, Kooi wanted to help nonprofit organizations with data analytics and business operations.
Those who knew him said he possessed wisdom far beyond his years, and perhaps as a final display of this, Kooi had arranged to become an organ donor upon his passing. Though he was found at the scene of the accident without a heartbeat, Kooi was resuscitated and taken to a nearby hospital until his wish to be an organ donor had been granted.
“Now, several people have received an improved quality of life,” said Jacob Kooi. “So this is at least is a positive spin on the tragedy.”
Andreas is survived by his older brother, David, and parents Helen and Jacob Kooi.
A memorial service will be held this Saturday, Dec. 11, at Hope Christian Fellowship, 6116 N. San Gabriel Blvd., in San Gabriel beginning at 2 p.m. All are welcome.
The service can also be followed online at hopes.org.

Now in his 25th year at The Tribune, Mitch Lehman is Editor and Sports Editor in addition to being the public address announcer for ten sports programs at San Marino High School. Mitch is one of only a handful in the community to receive the ‘Very Special Person Award’ from the San Marino PTA at the annual Founder’s Day ceremony, was acknowledged as a 'Terrific Titan' by the San Marino High School PTSA, was named an Honorary Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of San Marino and received a National Honorary Merit Badge in Journalism from the Boy Scouts of America. He has received two independent Pulitzer Prize nominations and in the past three years, Mitch has won seven awards and is a thirteen-time finalist in the California News Publishers Association's Better Newspapers Contest. In 2015, the press box at Titan Stadium was re-named 'Lehman's Loft' in his honor. You can reach Mitch at mitchlehman@sanmarinotribune.com.

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