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Charles Tuft, R.I.P.: Emergency doctor dies on Vail Mountain's opening day

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For the most part, skiing is safe. But sometimes, tragedies can occur even when folks engaging in one of Colorado's signature pastimes take the recommended precautions.

Case in point: The Friday death on Vail Mountain of Dr. Charles Tuft, a 62-year-old who appears to have done everything right but perished anyhow.

Tuft was one of the main docs at Alpine Mobile Physicians, which offered house-call care in the Vail Valley. Tuft's bio on the outfit's site boasts some serious credentials:

• Vail Valley Medical Center Emergency Physician • Chief of Emergency Medicine at Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Denver from 1984-1997. • Former Delegate to the Congress of the Colorado Medical Society • Board Certified Emergency Medicine • Board Certified Holistic Med, Home owner in the Vail Valley since 1991 • Everest Expedition Physician

This last item is particularly intriguing. As noted by the Vail Daily, Tuft was an expert on altitude sickness who'd served as a Mount Everest expedition doctor -- an indication that he had tremendous experience in mountainous environs.

Moreover, a Eagle County Sheriff's Office release notes that Tuft was wearing a helmet at the time of his accident, which took place on Gitalong Road, a beginner's trail -- which suggests he hadn't attempted to tackle a run that was beyond his capabilities.

Nonetheless, Tuft apparently went off an embankment and sustained bodily trauma that proved fatal.

At this point, there's been no announcement of services for Tuft, but the Vail Daily item linked above contains a slew of tributes to a skier who died on the slopes despite putting safety first.

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More from our News archive circa November 2010: "Scott Kay, Wolf Creek Ski Patrol director, dies in avalanche."

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