Published: Friday, February 15, 2013 at 3:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 15, 2013 at 3:30 p.m.
Raleigh Cheyenne Butler was a wild-haired Analy High School graduate with a knack for pranks and athleticism that made him a contender in a wide variety of sports.
Butler was living in snowboarder's paradise in North Tahoe and still imagining his future when he was killed Feb. 5 in Forestville with two other men during what authorities described as a marijuana drug deal. He was 24.
Butler was born in Santa Monica on April 8, 1988, and grew up in Sebastopol. He attended Willow Wood Waldorf, Pine Crest Elementary, Brookhaven Middle and Analy High schools.
He was riding a bicycle without training wheels by age 3 and by the time he was a teenager was accomplished at karate and confident on a unicycle.
Butler was among a crew of skateboarders who spent many afternoons in downtown Sebastopol flying over steps, sliding down rails and maneuvering everywhere they shouldn't. He joined those who rallied with fundraisers and other efforts to build the Sebastopol Skate Park, which finally opened in 2008.
On Dec. 26, 2004, Butler was in Thailand with his mother Leslie King of Sebastopol and other family when an earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia, sending a devastating tsunami across the region.
Butler and his family were staying at beachside bungalows. When the sea began rising, the group sprinted from the beach to a pickup and sped away just in time, said his father, Bob Butler of Petaluma.
Raleigh Butler was moved by the devastation and, along with others, returned holiday gifts and raised donations for the Red Cross relief efforts, his father said.
Butler graduated early from Analy High during the fall semester of his senior year and by Christmas was living in the mountains. He worked various odd jobs, shoveling snow, doing construction and running ski lifts. He eventually received sponsorship from several equipment companies and appeared in extreme snowboarding videos.
Butler took classes on rescue, snow patrol and avalanche studies at Rocklin-based Sierra College, and he had decided that he didn't want to compete and risk losing the fun of snowboarding. He recently was interested in becoming a personal fitness trainer, his father said.
Authorities said Butler was with two out-of-state men at his mother's rented home near Forestville to buy marijuana when all three were shot and killed. Authorities still are searching for the culprits.
Butler's father described his son as "a very good person who got involved with a very bad situation."
"When we're young, we don't always consider that the risks we take are also risks for those who love us, and who would be so hurt to lose us," Bob Butler said.
In addition to his parents, Butler is survived by his brother Dylan Butler of Santa Rosa, girlfriend Alexi Mann of Truckee, stepfather Sunny Schumaker and stepbrothers Sashwa Burrous and Skye Schumaker.
Butler's family and friends are holding private memorial services.
— Julie Johnson
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