COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

The principal at Mann Middle School in Colorado Springs died Sunday in a hiking accident in Switzerland, authorities said.

Scott Stanec, 46, did not return from a hike and a search party later discovered his body. Authorities said he had fallen, but no further details were available as of Monday night.

KRDO Newschannel 13 has learned that Stanec's wife, Kris, a professor at Colorado College, was on sabbatical and the entire family went to Switzerland. Stanec took a leave of absence from District 11 for the first few months of the school year, and was scheduled to return in December.

The staff at Mann Middle School was informed of Stanec's death Monday afternoon. Stanec's son attends Palmer High School and is on the hockey team. Students and staff at Palmer High were informed of the principal's death early Monday.

Staff at Colorado College also were notified Monday.

A woman who said she grew up with Stanec and his two siblings, reflected on his life. She asked to remain anonymous.

"He was larger than life," the woman said of Stanec. "I last saw him a year ago, but he was amazing. He knew every student in that school and they saw him every day. He's the kind of person we need in schools. A lot of kids will be devastated by this."

The woman said Stanec's parents are retired middle school educators in Widefield School District 3, and that he followed in his parents' footsteps of having a positive impact on the lives of students.

School District 11 spokeswoman Devra Ashby released a statement Monday night.

"District 11 is grieving the loss of valued employee, and we send thoughts and prayers to his family at this time," she said.

Staff at Mann Middle School plan to have grief counselors available for students Tuesday, have teachers inform students of Stanec's death and send letters home to parents about the situation.

Stanec leaves his wife, two children, his parents, and his younger brother and sister.