Local man dies after Vail skiing accident
Ryan Summerlin November 18, 2011
VAIL, Colorado – Dr. Charles Tuft, a longtime local doctor, died after a ski accident on Vail Mountain’s opening day Friday.
Tuft, 62, was transported to the Vail Valley Medical Center after the accident on Gitalong Road, a beginner trail between the Columbine and Bear Tree trails on Vail Mountain, a Vail Mountain statement issued Friday afternoon said.
“A call came into Vail Ski Patrol at approximately 10:17 a.m. and ski patrol responded immediately,” the statement said.
An Eagle County Sheriff’s Office statement said Tuft apparently lost control when he went off an embankment and suffered bodily trauma. He was wearing a helmet.
“Vail Ski Patrol administered medical assistance, along with Eagle County Ambulance personnel,” the Sheriff’s Office statement said. “The male party was taken to the Vail Valley Medical Center where resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.”
Vail Valley Medical Center spokeswoman Lindsay Warner said Tuft was transported to the hospital at 11 a.m. and was pronounced dead at 1:06 p.m.
The hospital released a statement Friday evening that said Tuft received “basic life support before being transported to Vail Valley Medical Center where he was evaluated and trauma resuscitation was initiated.”
“Dr. Tuft failed to respond to treatment and was pronounced dead at the medical center,” the statement said.
Tuft was the president of Alpine Mobile Physicians, a local on-call mobile medical service group. He was an altitude sickness expert and had traveled as an expedition doctor on Mount Everest.
He was also:
• A member of Vail Summit Emergency Physicians.
• Chief of Emergency Medicine at Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center, Denver, 1984-1997.
• Former delegate to the Congress of the Colorado Medical Society.
• Board-certified emergency medicine and holistic medicine.
• Educated at University of Colorado School of Medicine.
• A homeowner in the Vail Valley since 1991.
Dr. Larry Brooks, CEO of Alpine Mobile Physicians, said Tuft has done “so many good things for the hospital and the community.”
“He put together Alpine Mobile Physicians because he wanted to provide another way to give health care to people and he always did it with great service,” Brooks said via the hospital’s statement.
Brooks’ wife Muffy Brooks said the service was just starting to really get up and running. She said Tuft had worked so hard to make that happen.
The loss will be felt throughout the Vail Valley Medical Center staff. Tuft had worked at the hospital in the hospital’s emergency room and was always dependable, said Dr. Jack Eck, a prominent longtime local physician.
“He had a lot of the characteristics that we think of as the old-fashioned, high service, family doctor,” Eck said. “There’s going to be a void for a while – I sense that right away.”
Eck said all of the patients he referred to Tuft were always very pleased. He was attentive, responsive, and he cared, Eck said.
Eck said Tuft had done something fairly innovative with his on-call service that helped the entire medical service industry in the valley. Tuft was careful about following up with patients, and would do things like drive patients to the hospital on his own time if they needed it, Eck said.
“He was very loyal to the medical center – he helped out wherever he could,” Eck said.
The doctors Tuft worked with in the emergency room there were the very doctors who tried to save him Friday.
“That’s devastating when you see one of your own,” Eck said.
Vail Valley Medical Center President and CEO Doris Kirchner said in the hospital statement Friday that the entire hospital family is deeply saddened by the loss.
“Charlie was dedicated to the well being of our Valley and served our community through Alpine Mobile Physicians and our Emergency Department,” Kirchner said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dr. Tuft’s family, friends and patients. He will be deeply missed.”
Evan Massini, a 20-year-old University of Colorado at Boulder student, died at the Breckenridge Ski Resort Friday afternoon after a snowboard incident on the intermediate run Northstar.
Massini was put on advanced life support and taken to the Breckenridge Medical Center by ambulance.
Summit County Coroner Joanne Richardson confirmed that he later died. He was wearing a helmet, according to the resort’s statement.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.