October 1, 2022

Imagine. The guy goes through all this hell for the past couple of years. He redefines himself. He starts doing something that makes him happy and finds true joy in his life and his work. Then, from out of nowhere, a crocodile leaps up and drags him out of the canoe. I hope I am so lucky. I want to die fantastically in the midst of finding happiness and fulfillment. Don’t pity Dr. Root. Be glad for him.
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Seattle – A professor at the University of Washington Medical School who moved to Botswana to help alleviate a shortage of doctors there, was killed when a crocodile dragged him from a dugout canoe, his family and colleagues said.
Richard K. Root, 68, was on a wildlife tour of the Limpopo River in remote north-eastern Botswana with his wife, Rita O’Boyle, on Sunday when it happened. The couple had been visiting a clinic in the area.
A nationally known expert in infectious disease and the former chief of medicine at Harbourview Medical Centre in Seattle, Root went to the African nation to train health care workers to deal with Aids. Botswana’s rate of HIV infection is about 40 percent.
The move and his marriage last year had given him a new purpose in life after some difficult years, which included having bypass surgery, suffering with depression and caring for his previous wife until she died in 2001 of a neuromuscular disorder.
Root’s son David Root, a Seattle architect, said he had spoken with his father on Saturday, and that he was happy about his work at Botswana’s Princess Marina Hospital in the capital city of Gaborone.
“Dad had gone through hell and had to take stock of his life,” Root told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Another son, Richard Root of Los Angeles, said his father, who had worked as a doctor in Iran in the 1970s, now wanted to dedicate himself to helping Africa.
Root taught at Penn in the early 1970s before moving on to Yale and then, in 1982, to Seattle. He first served as chief of medicine at the Veterans Administration Hospital, then took over the same position at Harbourview in 1991.
He was former president of the American Federation of Clinical Research; editor in chief of a textbook, Clinical Infectious Diseases; and, from 1986 to 1991, he directed the National Institutes of Health’s Aids Advisory Committee.
Steve Gluckman, medical director of the Botswana program, said Root was in a dugout with the tour guides when the crocodile rose out of the water and grabbed him. He was not seen again. The tour guides were wary of hippos, but there had been no reports of crocodile attacks in the area.
Survivors include sons Richard, a college and high school teacher in Los Angeles; David, a Seattle architect; and Daniel, a Seattle physician. Root also had eight grandchildren. – Sapa-AP

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