Flagstaff neurosurgeon dies after slipping on rock

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Dr. Nathan Avery By Jennifer Thomas Dr. Nathan Avery By Jennifer Thomas

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- A neurosurgeon from Flagstaff died after slipping and falling on a rock near the Cookie Jar area of Lake Powell.
The Arizona Daily Sun reports that 45-year-old neurosurgeon Nathan Avery hit his head Saturday near his campsite and fell unconscious into the water.

Avery was camping with colleagues from Flagstaff Medical Center and their families.  Several people dove into the dark water to pull Avery's body out.  He was pronounced dead at a hospital in Page.

Flags at Flagstaff Medical Center were lowered in Avery's honor.

"We're obviously in a state of shock around here," said Dr. Andrew Aldridge, "He was in the prime of his life as a doctor and father."

Dr. Avery's patients are filling a tribute website, www.nateavery.info, with memories.

"It sent chills up my spine when I heard," said Christina Mencuccini.   Avery operated on her skull fracture, saving her life a few years ago.

"He was so kind and caring when I was rushed to the emergency room in a really dire situation," she recalls.

Mencuccini says Dr. Avery will be missed outside the hospital, too.

"I can't remember an event he and his wife didn't show up at.  They're so charitable and philanthropic," Mencuccini told 3TV.

A memorial will be held for Dr. Nathan Avery at Arizona Snowbowl Friday, August 24th.