A Charleston doctor – and native of Irmo – was among the climbers and support groups at Mount Everest who survived a devastating avalanche triggered Saturday by a 7.8 earthquake.
David Fitzpatrick, a family physician and wilderness medicine expert, was there as a doctor with a group preparing to climb the world’s tallest mountain.
Nineteen people died at the base camp; 61 climbers have been rescued.
David Fitzpatrick’s father, Tom Fitzpatrick of Columbia, said the company that employs his son confirmed David is safe, and is treating the injured at the base camp at Everest.
David Fitzpatrick, who practices in Goose Creek, is a staff member of Wilderness Medicine Outfitters, and was doing a three-month stint at the base camp as a member of a group hoping to reach the summit in the spring.
Wilderness medicine experts are trained to respond to emergencies. “He’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing,” Tom Fitzpatrick said.
The Washington Post reported that the wind that accompanied the avalanche “completely pulverized and blew the camp away,” American climber Jon Kedrowski, who was at the base camp, wrote on his blog Sunday. “Many of the injuries were similar to ones you might see in the Midwest when a tornado hits, with contusions and lacerations from flying debris. Head injuries, broken legs, internal injuries, impalements also happened to people. Some people were picked up and tossed across the glacier for a hundred yards.”
David Fitzpatrick is a graduate of Irmo High School, Wofford College and the Medical University of South Carolina. Tom Fitzpatrick said he has not spoken to his son since the quake and avalanche.