Utah surgeon killed after 100-foot fall while skiing at Solitude
SOLITUDE, Utah — A 38-year-old Cottonwood Heights transplant surgeon was killed after skiing off a cliff in an “expert only” area of Solitude Mountain Resort.
His death has left the Intermountain Healthcare and Utah transplant community in disbelief and mourning.
Dr. Andrew Gagnon saved hundreds of lives as a transplant surgeon. He died Thursday in a skiing accident at Solitude, leaving his Intermountain Healthcare and Utah transplant communities heartbroken. (📷Jeffrey D. Allred @Deseret News, and GoFundMe)https://t.co/KxhTfwptiy pic.twitter.com/GZh4PiGzXH
— Lauren Steinbrecher (@LaurenSnews) February 5, 2022
Melody Cutler with Unified Police Department confirmed the death Friday and said someone on a chair lift witnessed Andrew Gagnon fall from a 100-foot cliff and then slide an estimated 500 to 600 feet further through rocks and trees.
Gagnon was with his wife when the two separated and he ventured into the Ortovox Chute off Evergreen Peak, according to the resort, that said he slid off a cliff at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Thursday.
Unified Fire Department and the resort’s ski patrol responded. Cutler said the patrol and fire crews attempted life saving measures, but Gagnon was pronounced dead at 12:30 p.m. Officials said he was wearing a ski helmet.
Gagnon worked for the Intermountain Healthcare Transplant Program, and is credited with saving hundreds of lives as well as helping grow the program.
“He was a rare gem of a human being. He was a fantastic surgeon. He was always friendly — it didn’t matter if it was 3 p.m. or 3 a.m.,” said Dr. David Morris, a colleague of Dr. Gagnon’s and the associate medical director of General Surgery at Intermountain Healthcare.
Morris said he operated with Gagnon on several difficult and challenging cases, and that Gagnon was humble, friendly, and easy to work with.
Patients, colleagues, and everyone in the operating room all loved Dr. Gagnon, Morris said.
“There are literally hundreds of people walking around who would not be alive if not for his work,” Morris said.
Gagnon did extremely challenging work, Morris said, because transplant surgeons are called to operate whenever donor organs become available. This means operations take place during the day as well as in the middle of the night, and sometimes several days in a row.
“His work is just critical for our community and critical for our hospital system. Then, just the fact that he just leaves behind a young family, is just absolutely tragic,” Morris said. “And we just want them to know that as a surgical group and as a hospital community, we send our best and send our love to them.”
Intermountain Healthcare released the following statement about Dr. Gagnon’s passing:
“All of us at Intermountain Healthcare and Canyon Surgical Associates are deeply saddened about the tragic passing of Andrew I. Gagnon, MD, following a ski-related accident on Thursday.
Dr. Gagnon was a wonderful transplant surgeon, outdoor enthusiast, and lived for his family, patients, and fellow caregivers.
Because of Dr. Gagnon’s surgical talents, he was instrumental in growing the Intermountain Healthcare Transplant Services program and in doing so saved hundreds of lives. Dr. Gagnon always said he loved living in Utah, loved what he was doing, and his patients often noted his kindness and compassion.
The Intermountain Healthcare transplant family and entire transplant community in Utah will miss Dr. Gagnon and will honor his wonderful and lasting legacy.
–– Dr. Diane AlonsoIntermountain Healthcare Transplant Program
– Dr. Ivan ZendejasCanyon Surgical Associates Transplant Surgeon”
A GoFundMe* page has been set up to help Dr. Gagnon’s wife and three young children.
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