Idaho Doctor Dead After Triggering Avalanche as Girlfriend Tried to Save Him: 'Will Be Missed'

The Sawtooth Avalanche Center said Dr. Terrence "Terry" O'Connor was buried under "at least 5 feet of snow"

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Terry O'Connor/Facebook

Dr. Terrence 'Terry' O'Connor

An Idaho doctor who played a prominent role during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic died in an avalanche last week that he apparently triggered while skiing with his girlfriend.

The Custer County Coroner's Office confirmed to PEOPLE that the victim killed on May 10 was Dr. Terrence "Terry" O'Connor, 48.

"Two experienced backcountry skiers were traveling on Donaldson Peak in Idaho’s Lost River Range," the Sawtooth Avalanche Center reported. "While downclimbing to their ski descent, Skier 1 triggered and was caught in a small wind slab avalanche."

The slide carried "Skier 1," or O'Connor, downhill, which triggered a second and "larger avalanche," their report added.

Related: Avalanche Forecaster, 37, Dies After Triggering Snowslide While Skiing with Friend

"Skier 2 used a satellite communication device to call for help before descending the avalanche path," the center said. "She located Skier 1 with her rescue transceiver and probe pole."

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Officials noted O'Connor was buried under "at least 5 feet of snow." She dug him out of the snow with her shovel and began CPR.

Related: 9-Year-Old Boy Dies After Skiing Accident on Mt. Bachelor: 'He Brought So Much Joy'

"Search and rescue teams responded and evacuated Skier 1, but he did not survive the accident," the center said. SKI Magazine reported that Skier 2 was O'Connor's girlfriend, according to a source for the publication.

The Idaho EMS Physician Commission confirmed in a Facebook post that O'Connor was killed in the accident, noting he was an "outstanding physician" who "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."

Related: Skier Dies, 2 Others Injured After Falling About 1,000 Feet in Alaska Avalanche

"His loss will be missed not only in the valley itself but throughout the entire state and region," the commission said. "We express our condolences to his family and the Wood River Fire and EMS community."

According to the New York Post, O'Connor's death came one day after two skiers were killed in an avalanche at Lone Peak Canyon in Utah.

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