Former Phoenix-area critical care doctor dies kayaking in Montana

A retired critical care doctor, Thomas Bajo, died while kayaking with friends in Montana.

A former Valley doctor died while kayaking in Montana.

Thomas Bajo of Scottsdale would have turned 68 years old Wednesday.

He spent more than 30 years treating patients as a critical care physician at Banner - University Medical Center in Phoenix.

Authorities say he was kayaking with friends in Red Lodge, Montana Monday when he hit a rock and fell out of his kayak and fell into the rushing waters.

Rescuers found his body Tuesday.

His daughters said they celebrated his life Wednesday by going on a short hike, something their father loved to do.

"It's extremely difficult but I'm glad we're together and our family is very supportive," daughter Alyssa Bajo said. "We have an incredible group of people who have banded together to be with us."

"We're so lucky to have that," daughter Hannah Calvis added. "I think just having some minor consolation that he was happy. He was doing what he loved."

Bajo had decades of kayaking experience and was no stranger to the river that eventually claimed his life.

Banner Health released the following statement remembering Bajo:

Dr. Bajo cared for our most seriously ill patients in our intensive care units, as well as giving his time to educate new physicians in training. Our physician residents tell us that he played a pivotal role in their medical careers and was instrumental in helping them become the physicians they are today. While he retired in 2015, we mourn his passing and celebrate his professional life as a well-respected clinician who undoubtedly saved the lives of hundreds of patients in our community. Our heartfelt sympathies are with his loved ones, medical colleagues, and friends.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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