BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — Students and loved ones of a Boulder High School teacher are in mourning after a plane crash took his life.

Dan Zahner and his father-in-law, James Holland, lost their lives in that crash. They were traveling from Greeley a week ago with their sights set on Iowa. Their plane crashed in Nebraska while weather was rainy with low visibility, although a cause is still undetermined.

Close loved ones like Rebecca Coon said he was a dedicated educator who served students at Boulder High School since 2006 as the instructor of design technology, robotics and architecture.

“[He was] an out-of-the-box thinker and educator and was always looking for ways to make learning fun,” Coon said. “That spirit of having fun really helped students who might not otherwise be interested in STEM pathways be excited and engaged.”

Zahner was enthusiastic about his work in science, technology, engineering and math, and aviation was a new passion of his. Loved ones say that will be his mark on this earth: never shying away from an adventure.

“He lived a very full life and one of his mottos was to not live life in fear, and he definitely did not live his life in fear. He enjoyed seeing the world and living fully,” Coon said.

When Zahner was excited about something, his loved ones said he would make it a learning opportunity.

That includes an aviation curriculum designed for the next school year, where students would actually build a small plane — a lesson that will hopefully now honor his out-of-the-box way of educating.