CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Emergency physicians from Carolinas Medical Center traveled Thursday to Madison, Wis., for a memorial service honoring a friend and former colleague who died in the crash of a medical helicopter Saturday.
Dr. Darren Bean, 37, was one of three crew members killed when their Med Flight helicopter crashed shortly after dropping off a patient at a LaCrosse hospital.
Bean spent three years as an emergency medicine resident at CMC, from 1991 to 2002, as did his wife, Dr. Stacey Bean, who survives.
Others who died were nurse Mark Coyne and pilot Steve Lipperer, whose wife, Dr. Desiree LaCharite, also trained at CMC with the Beans.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. Officials have said the helicopter apparently flew into a hill or hit some trees.
"It's a huge loss," said Dr. John Marx, chairman of the emergency medicine department at CMC. "It breaks my heart."
Marx said Darren Bean "would rank among the very finest of people I've had the privilege to train. He was the most exuberant. Extremely bright. Extremely conscientious. He had an infectious enthusiasm."
Many times in the hospital halls, Marx recalled, "he would literally run up to me and tell me about a case he'd just seen and ask how would I have done it differently and what did I think."
One night, Marx said, Bean was caring for a patient with critical aortic stenosis, an unusual condition with features that made it a good "teaching case."
"So he called two of the emergency residents to come and see the patient. It didn't matter that it was 2 in the morning."
In 2000, Darren Bean was voted Intern of the Year by his fellow interns.
In 2001, he was one of three trainees chosen by the faculty to be chief residents in emergency medicine. And in 2002, he was named Teacher of the Year in emergency medicine.
"He was a great teacher," said Dr. Alan Jones, a CMC faculty physician who was in Bean's residency class. "Every shift he worked, every patient he saw, he was at his best. He paid attention to every detail and considered every option."
Those teaching skills extended to fly fishing and skiing, sports Bean learned to love while growing up in Park City, Utah.
On a fishing trip north of Charlotte, Jones said, "I remember watching him for several hours. With every cast, (he had) enthusiasm that the next one was going to be the big fish."
Bean also helped teach other residents and their spouses how to ski on a trip to Lake Tahoe. "He hung back and spent all day with them," Jones said. "He was always giving of himself."
In Madison, Bean worked as an emergency medicine physician and Med Flight physician. He was also medical director for the Madison Fire Department.
He and his wife, who met at the University of Vermont and married in 1999, have two young children, Parker and Caitlyn. Stacey Bean is an emergency room physician at St. Mary's Hospital in Madison.
Today's memorial service will also honor Lipperer. His wife, LaCharite, graduated from the CMC emergency medicine program in 2001 and is an emergency physician at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. They were married on July 28, 2007, in Madison.
Karen Garloch: 704-358-5078.