Idaho doctor killed in backcountry skiing avalanche

A prominent Idaho doctor died Friday in a backcountry skiing accident, authorities announced. Courtesy of Sawtooth Avalanche Center.

May 12 (UPI) — An Idaho doctor is dead after triggering an avalanche while skiing on Donaldson Peak in Idaho's Lost River Range backcountry on Friday, authorities at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center reported.

The skier was known as Dr. Terrence “Terry” O’Connor was identified, the Idaho Mountain Express reported.


The Sawtooth Avalanche Center released a statement Saturday saying two experienced backcountry skiers were at Donaldson Park and that one skier encountered a “wind snow avalanche” while descending to the location from which he planned to ski. triggered. O'Connor was identified in the statement as “Skier 1.”

“The slide carried Skier 1 downhill and triggered a second and larger avalanche. Skier 2 used a satellite communications device to call for help before descending the avalanche path,” the CAIC said. “She located Skier 1 using her rescue device and probe rod,” the report said about the second skier. “Skier 1 was buried under at least 1.5 meters of snow. She dug Skier 1 out of the snow with her shovel and began CPR. Search and rescue teams responded and evacuated Skier 1, but he did not survive the accident.”

O'Connor was a well-known emergency room doctor and his colleagues said he was instrumental in containing the COVID-19 pandemic in the early days of the outbreak.

“Terry was an outstanding physician and played a critical role in the early days of the COVID pandemic, truly demonstrating the public health role of the EMS medical director within a community. His loss will be missed not only in the valley itself, but throughout the valley state and region,” the Idaho EMS Physician Commission said in a statement Saturday.

“We extend our condolences to his family and the Wood River Fire and EMS community.”

He most recently worked in the emergency room at St. Luke's Wood River, but also served as director of the Blaine County Ambulance District. He was honored by the Idaho Hospital Association and the South Central Public Health District for his “patient-centered” behavior.

O'Connor was 48 and known for combining outdoor adventures with service to other people, his colleagues said.

Anna Harden

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