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Craig Garrett.

A longtime Arvin karate instructor, who worked in the community for nearly 40 years, died last week unexpectedly immediately following one of his lessons.

Craig Garrett, 65, collapsed and died as students were leaving an Arvin Martial Arts karate class he was teaching in the cafeteria at Bear Mountain Elementary School on Sept. 5.

One of his students was demonstrating a carotid choke hold on Garrett, according to his wife, Lora Garrett. Craig Garrett ended the demonstration and concluded class without any issues, his wife said.

As students were leaving the cafeteria, however, Craig Garrett collapsed, according to the Arvin Police Department.

Arvin officers were dispatched to the school and performed CPR before paramedics and firefighters arrived. Garrett was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Kern County Coroner’s Office ruled Garrett died of natural causes, and Lora Garrett said she was told her husband died from a heart attack.

Arvin Martial Arts uses the cafeteria at Bear Mountain Elementary School for its classes and is not affiliated with the school, according to Superintendent Georgia Rhett.

Friends and family of Garrett took to Facebook to express remorse over his death, but mostly focused on his impact on those with whom he spent time.

Many from Arvin Martial Arts shared similar stories regarding of Garrett’s inspirational demeanor and loving character, evident as he taught children under the age of 12.

Katrina Flores’ son, Francisco, has been with Arvin Martial Arts for about four years. Flores said Garrett took his students “under his wing” to help guide them through life and martial arts.

“He is a man of wisdom and insight for his students,” Flores said. “He teaches them to have confidence, self-discipline, self-control and also how to be a teacher for younger kids that are in the class.”

Flores said she could always depend on Garrett.

“As a mother, I know I could always lean on Sensi Craig to help when my son needed to be lifted up and I couldn’t achieve it,” Flores said. “His presence at class and outside of class will be greatly missed.”

Francisco Flores mirrored his mother’s sentiment.

“I know class will be different now,” Francisco said.

Gus Divelbiss said he and his son, one of Garrett’s students, are deeply saddened by Garrett’s passing.

“(I have) and always will admire this man that taught my son self confidence, and respect,” Divelbiss said. “May he rest in paradise.”

Crystal Jones said Garrett taught her son, Richard, more than just martial arts.

“(He) taught my son not only self-defense, but most importantly self-control and self-confidence,” Jones said. “(He) had such a great impact on these kids — not only in karate class but out in the community of Arvin.”

Details about Garrett’s funeral or memorial services have not yet been released.

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