BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A global adventurer when he wasn’t seeing patients in small-town Alabama, Dr. Roland Yearwood recently left his rural home to face the same challenge that could have killed him two years ago: Scaling Mount Everest.
This time, Everest won.
Yearwood, a 50-year-old doctor who practiced medicine in Georgiana, Alabama, died near the summit of the world’s highest peak on Sunday, one of four people who Nepalese tourism officials said were killed on the mountain over the weekend.
The circumstances of Yearwood’s death weren’t immediately released.
Two years ago, the doctor survived a devastating earthquake that struck while he and dozens more were attempting to climb the mountain. Eighteen people were killed, although everyone in Yearwood’s group was safe.
Yearwood stayed behind after the 2015 quake to help provide medical care for people in the area, according to Patti Cook, administrator at Georgiana Medical Center, where he worked.
“Dr. Yearwood was a selfless, strong physician respected by all of his colleagues. He was known as our ‘trauma doc’ due to his ability to stay calm and level-headed during emergencies while extending his confidence to the staff,” Cook said in a statement.
The father of two daughters was in the process of climbing the tallest peak on each of the seven continents, and Everest was the challenge this spring, according to a biography on the website of Georgiana Medical Center. He also liked to fly, dive and sail.
“We were very blessed to have him as a part of our medical center,” said Cook.
Yearwood was an on-call physician and also saw patients in a rural health clinic, she said.
Court records show Yearwood died about a month after a judge signed an order ending his marriage to Amrita Yearwood, who also is a doctor in south Alabama. In 2015, Amrita Yearwood described the anguished wait for word of her then-husband’s fate after an earthquake shook Everest while he and dozens of other people were attempting to climb the mountain.
“He is always calm,” Amrita Yearwood told al.com at the time. “He does a lot of sports. He is adventurous. He doesn’t get freaked out.”
Yearwood moved to Georgiana — best known as the hometown of country music legend Hank Williams — about two decades ago after completing his medical training in London and New York, according to his biography.
He once saved a baby who nearly drowned and delivered a child who was three months premature, Cook’s statement said. Yearwood made house calls and personally provided transportation to patients when needed, she said.
In a Facebook message expressing condolences to Yearwood’s family, Montgomery attorney Brandon Sellers posted on his law firm’s site that the doctor was “truly an asset” to his community.
“His patients loved him, and he was also just a really cool guy,” Sellers wrote. “He was passionate about life and his work, and this (led) him back to the climb the mountain the nearly killed him and did kill many others two years ago.”