An emergency doctor from Idaho tragically died in an avalanche while skiing

Dr. Terrence “Terry” O’Connor, a nature-loving doctor from Ketchum, Idaho, tragically died in an avalanche while skiing on Donaldson Peak in the Lost River Range. The avalanche occurred while he was skiing with a partner, who responded quickly by pulling him out of the snow and alerting authorities. Despite her efforts, O'Connor did not survive the accident. According to the Sawtooth Avalanche Center, both O'Connor and his ski partner were experienced backcountry skiers. At the time of his death, O'Connor was working as an emergency room physician at St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center.

The Idaho EMS Physician Commission, of which O'Connor previously served, expressed its condolences on Facebook for the tragic loss. They highlighted O'Connor's role in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and praised him for demonstrating the role of an emergency medical services medical director within the public health community. The Facebook post highlighted O'Connor's contributions not only in the valley, but throughout the state and region. O'Connor's death sparked a wave of sympathetic reactions on social media. Many community members expressed gratitude for his service and remembered him as a hero who lived with grace and enthusiasm.

The avalanche that led to O'Connor's death began around 11:55 a.m. when O'Connor accidentally triggered the snow slide while descending for his ski run. The first snowdrift avalanche was followed by a larger one that carried him downhill. Despite the quick actions of his ski partner, who used a satellite communications device to call for help and locate O'Connor under at least 1.5 meters of snow, he ultimately did not survive. Search and rescue teams attended the scene but were unable to save him. The Sawtooth Avalanche Center provided detailed information about the sequence of events that led to O'Connor's death.

The early death of Dr. Terrence O'Connor left a significant impact on his community, and many people mourn the loss of such a dedicated and compassionate doctor. O'Connor's work during the COVID-19 pandemic was particularly highlighted, with his contributions to public health and community well-being being greatly appreciated. The heartfelt messages on social media reflect the profound impact O'Connor had on those around him, with many fondly remembering his exemplary service and positive influence. Despite the tragic circumstances of his death, O'Connor's legacy as a dedicated healthcare provider and outdoor enthusiast will continue to resonate with those who knew him.

After the death of Dr. Terrence O'Connor, the community has come together to honor his memory and celebrate his life. He is remembered as a hero who served with dedication and integrity and demonstrated grace and enthusiasm in all aspects of his life. The tragic nature of his death is a reminder of the risks associated with backcountry skiing and the unpredictability of avalanches. O'Connor's legacy will live on through the positive impact he had on his community and the lasting contributions he made as a health care provider. Although his presence will be greatly missed, his spirit will continue to inspire those touched by his kindness and compassion.

Anna Harden

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