Karate teacher killed in tragic accident that students remember


Longtime martial arts instructor Steve Sutton died of carbon monoxide poisoning on his boat

WENTZVILLE, Mo. – At American Karate in Wentzville, the practice is progressing.

Their philosophy is that martial arts keep your body and mind on the cutting edge of technology.

“We want to build character through our teachings,” said co-owner Rich Norton.

And not just in character, as 15-year-old Charlie Alles can attest.

“I’ve always been a smaller person and that gave me a lot of confidence,” he said.

“He’s usually a calm kid and a little shy and that just brings out a different side of him,” his mother Anna Alles said.

But Charlie’s confidence was shaken recently when his family received a shocking phone call.

His longtime trainer, Steve Sutton, recently died in a tragic accident.

There was a carbon monoxide leak while his cruise ship was anchored at Tonka Springs Cove in Lake of the Ozarks. Four others were on the boat but they all survived.

“Why would this happen to such a good person?” Charlie asked.

“It was very hard. Very hard,” said an emotional Norton.

Norton has been Sutton’s business partner for over 25 years. They met as martial arts students but teaching became their profession and their passion.

“He was a proud and determined person who loved to teach and share his knowledge,” Norton said.

No matter how many kids are in class, his students said, Mr. Sutton seemed to make each of them the center of attention.

“We take each one as a personal challenge,” Norton said.

Parker Yeager, 15, earned his black belt under the watchful eye of Sutton.

“He was like a father figure,” he said. “Pass as an instructor. Lead you towards your black belt.”

“It wasn’t just about learning the kicks and punches,” said Anna Alles. “It was much more than that.”

A good teacher can encourage and inspire, whether in a classroom or a dojo.

“There must be more people like him in this world,” Charlie Alles said. “He was just nice in every way.”

Steve Sutton, a hard-to-forget teacher after giving his students so much to remember.

“He literally made a difference in their lives,” Norton said.

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