Idaho emergency room doctor dies in avalanche on ski trip

A nature-loving doctor was killed in an avalanche on Friday while he was skiing in Idaho, authorities say.

Ketchum, Idaho, resident Dr. Terrence "Terry" O'Connor was identified as the sole victim of the avalanche, officials said. The Custer County Coroner's Office confirmed the death to Fox News Digital on Sunday evening.

Dr. Terrence "Terry" O'Connor was killed in an Idaho avalanche on Friday. (Terry O'Connor via Facebook / Sawtooth Avalanche Center)

The 48-year-old was skiing with a partner on Donaldson Peak in the Lost River Range when he accidentally triggered the snowslide, according to authorities.

The avalanche began at around 11:55 a.m., according to officials. In reports from authorities, O'Connor was referred to as Skier 1.

"While downclimbing to their ski descent, Skier 1 triggered and was caught in a small wind slab avalanche," a report from the Sawtooth Avalanche Center reads. "The slide carried Skier 1 downhill, triggering a second and larger avalanche."

The report added that O'Connor's ski partner acted quickly to remove him from the snow and alert authorities.

"Skier 2 used a satellite communication device to call for help before descending the avalanche path," the statement continues. "She located Skier 1 with her rescue transceiver and probe pole. Skier 1 was buried under at least 5 feet 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 and his ski partner were both experienced backcountry skiers, the Sawtooth Avalanche Center said. At the time of his death, O'Connor worked as an emergency room physician at St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center.

photo of avalanche aftermath that killed an Idaho emergency room doctor

The avalanche was accidentally triggered by O'Connor while skiing. (Sawtooth Avalanche Center via Facebook)

The Idaho EMS Physician Commission, which O'Connor was previously affiliated with, made a Facebook post expressing its condolences over the tragic death.

"Terry was an outstanding physician and played a pivotal role in the early days of the COVID pandemic really demonstrating the public health role of the EMS medical director within a community," the Facebook post reads. "His loss will be missed not only in the valley itself but throughout the entire state and region."

O'Connor's death sparked sympathetic reactions on social media, with many members of his community praising him for his service.

"A hero to all of us and a life lived with such grace and enthusiasm," one Facebook user wrote. "Thank you [for] being an amazing example to all of us."

"There is no way to understand a loss like this," another commenter wrote. "He gave so much in so many ways. His worth cannot be measured or replaced."

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