The world lost “a positive force,” when newly minted Doctor Ethan Sellers, 29, was killed in a fiery crash over the July 4 weekend, Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Medical Center Family Residency Program Director Ted O’Connell said Monday.
Kaiser Vallejo is holding a memorial for Sellers, open to the public, at 6 p.m. Tuesday. There is a condolence book available for members to sign at the main volunteer station.
“(Sellers, of Walnut Creek) was a wonderfully humanistic person; an outstanding physician who really took the time to get to know his patients,” O’Connell said. “He was a gifted physician and would have been a brilliant palliative care physician. He had a infectious personality; a love for life, and he really cared about the community around him.”
O’Connell said Sellers “deeply touched everyone he met.”
“The world lost a wonderful spirit; a gifted physician who was just beginning his career,” he said. “Someone who cared deeply about his community.”
Elizabeth Kleier, coordinator of the family medicine residency at Kaiser Vallejo, from which Sellers graduated June 30, spoke of him while fighting tears.
Calling him “an exceptional young physician, who had graduated from our residency less than a week previous, was killed along with his passenger in a terrible car crash on July 4th in Contra Costa County.”
Reports from July 5, say the 2008 Mazda Miata Sellers had been driving, smashed into a light pole at a Dublin intersection at about 1:45 a.m., killing him and his passenger, Matthew McEnerney, 35, of Dublin, according to Dublin police Capt. Nate Schmidt.
Preliminary evidence indicates the car veered off the road, struck the pole, and was was engulfed in flames with the two victims unconscious inside. Police and firefighters tried to save the men’s lives, but were unsuccessful.
Kleier said Sellers’ parents are sill in Vallejo from Pennsylvania, having come for his graduation from the program. She said he lived in Vallejo for several years before moving to Walnut Creek with a girlfriend and was set to start a fellowship at UC Davis in palliative care on Monday.
“We all expected him to return to Kaiser in Vallejo at the end of his fellowship at about this time next year,” she said.
“This is a huge loss,” she said. “He had more than 300 patients in his three years here. It’s hard to find physicians who want to do palliative, or end-of-life care. He was everybody’s favorite.”
Ethan was dedicated to uplifting all around him by alleviating suffering wherever he found it, she said.
“He was a truly wonderful young physician,” she said. “Ethan was empathetic, gregarious, humble and smart. He was also a huge hugger and an award winning poet.”
He worked with Emily Fisher doing homeless outreach in Vallejo, with the Vallejo high school students doing STD prevention and on elective at the medical unit at the California prison facility in Vacaville, she said.
“His girlfriend call one of our other residents, who told the program director, and that’s how we all found out,” Kleier said. “There was a visceral reaction. We prepared a group meeting for those who worked most closely with him and told them what happened, and closed the clinic so people could go home. It was a shock to the system. He was about to step off into an incredible life.”
The Dr. Ethan Sellers Memorial Scholarship Fund, has also been launched, which will support higher education for underprivileged youth in Vallejo, O’Connell said.
Donations can be made to the fund, care of Elizabeth Kleier, to Kaiser Vallejo, 975 Sereno Drive, Vallejo, CA, 94589.
29-year-old Bay Area doctor killed in fiery crash on July 4