BATH — A longtime teacher and former head of the Hyde School in Bath has been identified as the victim of a fatal car crash Wednesday night near the school’s High Street campus.

School officials said 65-year-old Paul Hurd of Phippsburg died in the single-vehicle accident. Hurd, who was the first student to enroll at Hyde School, had taught at Hyde for more than 35 years.

He leaves behind a wife and three adult children.

“Paul taught more students than anyone in the history of Hyde School,” said Ken Grant, a veteran Hyde science teacher and close friend of Hurd.

Bath police said Wednesday night that the operator of a 2012 Toyota Camry heading south on High Street around 6:10 p.m. veered off the road, continued up a sloped driveway and struck an unoccupied parked car at 462 High St. Officers found Hurd’s body in the car but did not immediately identify him, pending the notification of his relatives. Lt. Robert Savary identified the victim as Hurd in a statement Thursday.

“There is no evidence at this point that alcohol or drug use was a factor in this accident. Evidence at the scene indicates that no evasive manuevers were taken when he veered off the roadway or prior to impacting the parked car. We believe Mr. Hurd may have had a medical issue while operating his vehicle,” Savary said.

Grant said the Hyde community is at a loss to explain what happened prior to the crash. Grant said Hurd, who did not drink alcohol, had just met with a member of the school’s board of directors and was driving back to the campus when the accident occurred.

School officials and grief counselors met with students throughout the day Thursday to talk about what happened and the mark that Hurd left on Hyde’s close-knit community.

Hyde’s student population includes high school age students from across the nation and world. It was founded in 1966 by Joe Gauld and focused on fostering five principles that would help students reach their full potential in life: courage, integrity, leadership, curiosity and concern. Hyde currently operates two boarding schools in Bath and Woodstock, Conn.

Rich Truluck, Hyde’s associate head of school, posted an announcement Thursday on the school’s website, calling Hurd “a pillar of the Hyde School.”

“Perhaps no one is more synonymous with Hyde School than Paul Hurd … Having worn just about every hat at Hyde, including head of school, teacher, coach, pioneer and mentor, Paul has left an indelible mark on Hyde School,” Truluck said.

Hyde School President Malcolm Gauld not only lost a teacher and friend – they went surfing together on the West Coast – but his brother-in-law as well. Hurd is married to Gauld’s sister, Laurie.

Gauld said he was “blown away” by the reaction he got from Hyde students and alumni.

“‘He believed in me before I believed in myself.’ I heard that repeatedly today from our kids. My biggest regret is that he is not around to hear them say it,” Gauld said.

Gauld said Hurd grew up in Woolwich, graduated from Morse High School in Bath and enrolled for one postgraduate year of study at Hyde in 1966. He was a 1971 graduate of Bowdoin College. Hurd is believed to have been Hyde’s first student and Gauld said his friend scored the football team’s first touchdown.

Gauld said Hurd, who taught a government course at Hyde, taught thousands of students during the course of his academic career.

“I’m pretty sure that no one (at Hyde) has taught more kids than Paul Hurd,” Gauld said.

Gauld said the school and Hurd’s family are still in the process of planning a memorial service.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com