Calgary doc killed in Grand Canyon 'wingsuit' base jump

Dr. David Stather.

Dr. David Stather.

Michael Platt, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:12 PM ET

CALGARY -- His job as a surgeon was to save lives -- but Dr. David Stather's passion was to risk his own, seeking a precious rush of adrenaline.

"Sitting around our camp fire the night before Dave's death he could not have been happier. He talked about his life, his work and the days jumping with equal enthusiasm. It is my belief that he loved where he was in life."

Those are the words of Ralph Greenaway, one of two friends with the 41-year-old University of Calgary respirologist when a base jump into a remote arm of the Grand Canyon went badly wrong.

Greenaway was left to break the news of his friend's death to other base jumpers in the community's main online forum, making the grim announcement after Coconino County Sheriff deputies and search and rescue teams retrieved the Calgarian's body on Saturday.

"I am sorry to have to post that Doctor David Stather, from Calgary, Canada died during a wingsuit proximity flight from a remote exit point in Northern Arizona on Friday 24th January 2014," Greenaway wrote on basejumper.com.

It's a major blow to Calgary's medical community, losing a pulmonary specialist known for embracing the latest technology, and advancing his own cutting-edge techniques.

Trained as a honours student in Ontario, Stather spent a year performing surgery in rural Africa, before moving to Calgary to accept a fellowship in Interventional Pulmonary Medicine at the University of Calgary.

The job was pretty sweet, but it's certain the unmarried young doctor was also drawn by the proximity of the Rocky Mountains -- ideal for his hobbies of snowboarding and climbing.

But those weren't thrills enough for Stather, and the surgeon was also an expert skydiver -- and from there, he joined the rare and dangerous sport known as base jumping, base standing for building, antenna, span and earth.

His mom didn't want to talk about the risks her son took -- but she agreed that between a high-octane career and hair-raising hobbies, David was a certainly man who liked excitement.

"He got the most he could out of his life," said Margaret Stather, speaking from the family home in Guelph, Ont.

"He was as remarkable as you can get, as a doctor and as our eldest son."


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