Rifle ER doctor dies after hiking accident on Grizzly Creek Trail

Ryan Summerlin
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Dr. Bill Bevins

A Grand River Health emergency room physician praised for his dedication to working in developing and often troubled countries died this week in a hiking accident on Grizzly Creek Trail, authorities said Wednesday.

Garfield County Coroner Rob Glassmire identified the victim as Dr. Bill Bevins, who also worked in the Valley View Hospital emergency room from 1994 to 2006. The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday included mention of an accidental death on the trail in its daily activity report.

Bevins was hiking the trail Monday with his wife when he tripped and hit his head on a rock around 2:37 p.m., according to a coroner’s report. The incident occurred about a mile to 1.5 miles into the trail. Another hiker performed CPR until the Glenwood Springs Fire Department could reach the spot and take over. They could not revive him.

An autopsy found the cause of death consistent with the reported accident, Glassmire wrote in a statement.

In addition to his work in Garfield County emergency rooms, Bevins also practiced medicine around the world.

“Born and educated in Kentucky, Dr. Bevins touched lives on several continents through his skill in emergency and tropical medicine, his passion for equipping a new generation of caregivers in emergency medical care and, most of all, his loving kindness,” his family wrote in a statement.

Bevins, who first moved to Colorado in 1982, practiced medicine and trained physicians in Kenya and Central Asia, and in the past decade had taught in more than a dozen countries.

Hospital staff at Grand River Health pulled together an impromptu memorial service Wednesday that drew more than 150 people: family members, medical flight crew members and staffers from Grand River, Valley View and St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.

Bevins “inspired others that he worked with,” said Annick Pruett, administrative director at Grand River Health. “This has really hit the Grand River family hard.”

Many people at the hospital’s memorial spoke about his humanitarian service in the developing world, Pruett said.

Stacy Pemberton, chief nursing officer at Grand River, said that in more than 10 years of working with Bevins she could see how compassionate and patient-centered he was.

“He was always a champion for clinicians, from the staff at home to health care providers in dangerous and remote parts of the world,” she said in an email to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

“He and his wife Jan have traveled the world in an effort to increase quality of health care through education to those who do not have the resources. He would send updates from home but could never divulge his location since he was often in a war-torn country. His life was at risk so he could better others. Jan and Bill were selfless and serving always,” Skwiot said.

Dr. Matthew Skwiot, Grand River emergency department medical director, recalled deep conversations with Bevins in which “time became irrelevant.”

“His passion for medical education in underserved areas was truly unique.”

“He also had a passion for foreign medical education,” and he “had mastered the art of healing at all levels — the mind, the body and the soul,” he said.

Bevins had plans for more overseas humanitarian work in January, when he was to work in Uzbekistan. In his absence, a handful of Grand River Health staffers, including the chief medical officer and others who worked alongside Bevins, plan to make the trip in 2018 as a tribute to him, Pruett said.

Travis Martin, an emergency department physician at Valley View who’d known Bevins since his residency about 30 years ago, said he was a great person and a wonderful doctor. A quiet yet strong personality, “he was fun to work with and had a great sense of humor.”

Bevins was an avid outdoorsman who took advantage of just about all Colorado has to offer: kayaking Class 5 whitewater, mountain biking, ice climbing, telemark skiing and making first descents of many whitewater creeks in the state, Martin said.

“He was a unique individual who had a great urge to help people around the world in places of conflict, with therefore poor access to health care.”

A memorial service is planned Saturday at New Creation Church in Glenwood Springs at 10 a.m.

The Bevins family appreciates visitors but requests that they phone first. The family also may be reached at or