Summit photojournalist dies in fall
Brad Odekirk, a Summit Daily News photojournalist whose award-winning work captured the splendor of the people and the mountains of Colorado’s high country, died Sunday.Odekirk, 41, apparently fell from the third-floor balcony outside his condo in Dillon very early Sunday morning. He was discovered around 2:30 a.m. by a neighbor who called 911.Summit County Coroner Joanne Richardson said he sustained massive pelvic trauma and internal injuries. Although semiconscious when paramedics arrived he never regained full consciousness. He died on the operating table at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center at 8:30 a.m. Hospital supervisor Ann Murdoch said the injuries were too severe to overcome.”They did everything they could,” she said. “I’m so sorry it was such a sad outcome.”Like so many in Summit County, people at the hospital knew Odekirk, who has been the newspaper’s photographer since 1994. His photographs, especially of people enjoying Summit County’s mountain lifestyle, have long been a hallmark of the newspaper.On Saturday evening, Odekirk hosted a dinner party at his home. Guests at the party said he enjoyed several glasses of wine during the night and appeared to be in control of himself. Richardson said Odekirk’s blood alcohol was over the legal limit.Police believe Odekirk, after his overnight guests had gone to bed, decided to enjoy Saturday night’s full moon in the condo’s ground-floor hot tub. After some time in the hot tub, he then climbed the three floors back to the landing, where there is balcony with a low railing. “The indications are he fell,” said Richardson. Several branches from an aspen tree below the balcony were broken and where Odekirk struck the ground is clearly visible.After the fall he was able to crawl partly up the stairwell, then collapsed, said Richardson.Dr. William Lackey, the on-call physician at St. Anthony, said paramedics did their best to stabilize Odekirk, who had lost a great deal of blood, then rushed him to the hospital.Two trauma surgeons worked on Brad for more than six hours. More than 20 units of blood were used in trying to stabilize his blood pressure.His parents, of Castle Pines, are out of the country. They were informed of the accident and their son’s death early Sunday. A decision on a memorial service will be made by the family later in the week.Brad’s brother, Todd, a Denver chiropractor who came to the hospital Sunday morning, said his younger brother sought to live life to the fullest.”Brad loved everything that life offered,” he said.During the past two decades, Odekirk, who was educated at Colorado State University and the Brooks Institute of Photography, traveled extensively and had seen all but one of the world’s seven continents – missing only Australia. He often gave his photographs from the trips to friends and colleagues as gifts.Photos from his last overseas trip, a journey around South America’s Cape Horn and the Antarctic, can been seen on the Summit Daily website. The dozens of photos in the slide show includes photographs as varied as South American political figures to penguins. In addition to his photographs, every other week he wrote a feature about one of the area’s longtime residents.In 2004, a series of stories and photographs by Odekirk on the vanishing family ranch were honored by the Associated Press and the Colorado Press Association as the best photo essay published by a nonmetropolitan Colorado newspaper. A judge for the competition said “this is work of the first order.”
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