Surgeon dies after plunging 500ft down abyss on family skiing holiday in France
Published 31/03/2016 | 19:30
A leading surgeon has died after plunging 500ft down an abyss during a family skiing trip.
Bill Choi, a consultant urologist, was skiing off piste with others and a guide when he fell 150 metres down the chasm and hit rocks, dying from head injuries.
Despite efforts from paramedics to save him, Mr Choi was pronounced dead at the scene last Monday, while his family were skiing on another side of the mountain, in La Plagne, France.
The respected doctor, popular with staff and patients, was a lead urology surgeon for renal cancer at the East Kent Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust.
Mr Choi's partner Abbey, who was on holiday with her daughter, Mr Choi and his two sons said the family had been inundated with supportive messages.
She said: "Bill was a very experienced skier and always wore a helmet and didn't take risks. We were in different groups and I just got a phone call asking me to return to the hotel because Bill had a fall.
"My first thought was that he might have broken a leg, but he died from head injuries. It is devastating, particularly for the boys, whose mother Debbie died seven years ago.
"Bill was such a lovely man who would help anyone. We have had so many messages of sympathy and comfort and would like to thank everyone for their support, love and kindness."
Mr Choi, from Littlebourne, Kent, was vice-chairman for the Renal Cancer Service and the chairman of Laparoscopic Urological Surgery for the Kent Cancer Network.
A consultant at William Harvey Hospital, the 48-year-old had laparoscopic renal surgery in east Kent, now one of the highest volume centres for surgical treatment for kidney cancer in the UK.
Trust medical director Dr Paul Stevens said: "He always wore a smile, worked with a great sense of humour and would readily chat with all staff in a relaxed way.
"He was able to perform a serious job but would never take himself too seriously."
Mr Choi's body was repatriated to Britain earlier this week from La Plagne, where the mountain police are investigating the incident.
His death has been reported to the coroner who is expected to open an inquest.