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Meir Wetzler, Nationally Known Cancer Doctor, Dies After Colorado Ski Accident

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Shortly after posting about the death of CU Boulder student Jacob Koltun at Breckenridge, we learned about another fatality resulting from an accident on the Colorado ski slopes.

The victim was Dr. Meir Wetzler, a nationally known cancer specialist based in Buffalo, New York.

Thus far, the circumstances of the incident that led to Wetzler's death, or even the specific location at which it took place, have not been released.

However, we know that it happened on February 7, with Wetzler passing away from his injuries at Swedish Medical Center on Monday, February 23.

Meanwhile, tributes to Wetzler's remarkable work and career continue to accumulate from friends, patients and fellow medical pros in Buffalo and beyond.

According to the Buffalo News, Wetzler was born in Israel and began working at Buffalo's Roswell Park Cancer Institute in 1994.

At the time of his death, Wetzler, who had recently celebrated his sixtieth birthday, was the head of RPCI's leukemia section, and while videos like the ones below make him seem extremely serious, friends note that he had a playful side that came out during annual events for the local chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma charity.

Nancy E. Hails, the chapter's executive director, told the paper that over the years, attendees "saw him dress as Shrek, he was the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland...and the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz. And one of my favorites was Gilligan from Gilligan’s Island."

WGRZ-TV shared a pair of remembrances from those who worked with Wetzler. The first is from Alex Adjei, chairman of the medical department at Roswell Park:

"Meir joined Roswell Park in 1994, and has been a colleague and friend to many of us. He was selflessly dedicated to RPCI and cared about the success, vitality and growth of the Institute with great passion. He was integrally involved in all aspects of institutional activity. Meir was dedicated to the teaching of medical students, residents and fellows. Here are some highlights of the many roles he played in our lives: He oversaw clinical activities departmentally and co-chaired the Ambulatory Services Executive Committee. He co-chaired the Scientific Review Committee and Chaired the Pharmacy & Therapeutics Committee. Meir also oversaw the leukemia tissue bio-repository and ran a research laboratory. In addition to doing all of this, he carried a full clinical load and took outstanding care of his patients.

"Meir touched us all in so many different ways; Roswell Park has lost a dedicated son. All of us who worked with him and interacted with him are better people because we knew Meir. He will be sorely missed."

Also weighing in is Kara Eaton-Weaver, executive director of the institute's patient-and-family-experience department:

"Meir embodied patient- and family-centered care. He gave a piece of himself in everything he did, from his research to his care for patients to his interactions with his team of colleagues. Meir was a transformational leader who built a culture of empathy, compassion and integrity and innovation. His character is an inspiration to us all. We are forever grateful for the gifts he shared with us."

If Wetzler suffered his accident at a resort, he will be at least the fourth fatality at a Colorado ski area this year, following Koltun, fellow CU student Robert Miles and Eric Haiar. The latter pair died after accidents at Eldora and Keystone, respectively.

Our condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of Dr. Meir Wetzler.

Look below to see a WIVB-TV report about Wetzler's death, followed by a pair of interview pieces recorded over recent years, which demonstrate the width and breadth of his expertise.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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