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

Categories: News

charles tuft.jpg
Charles Tuft.
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

charles tuft facebook.jpg
Tuft's Facebook photo.
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.

Click here to follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.

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

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My Voice Nation Help

Westword: In the January 22nd, 1986 issue of Westword there was a great article about Charlie Tuft's role as the doctor to The Dead.  It would be great if you could re-print the article as a tribute to Charlie or post a link for others to read.


We knew Charlie too for over 30 yrs and the news articles would have you believe that he was a 'beginner' skier.  In fact he was a skier's skier and had skied over 50 yrs.  On this particular day, he was heading down a catwalk intersecting two trails to finish the day.  Unfortunately a snowboarder slightly ahead of him cut him off and he veered off the trail and suffered massive internal injuries from landing on a tree stump.  Avoiding another skier and trying to avert a collision was what Charlie was attempting to do.  W/the little snow that Vail has had, the embankment was very steep w/little snow on the ground below.


Thank you for this perspective Micheal,  I have known a been a skiing companion for Dr Charlie for almost 30 years.  Charlie was one of the most accomplished skiers I knew. He lived for the sport and moved to Vail to indulge in his love of skiing with zest and enthusiam.  He was beyond expert and skied with control.  About 20 years ago Charlie broke his neck skiing on Tourist trap and 6 months later, with his neck fused he continued to both golf and ski after his accident. On Friday when his friend found out, we were not only in shock of the loss of our great friend, but also how it was announced....62 year old colorado man dies on beginner slope... That was the truth, but not the 'rest of the story'.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

My condolences, saveH20 -- and thanks for the kind words.

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