Toppenish Community Hospital mourns loss of local doctor

Toppenish Community Hospital mourns loss of local doctor »Play Video

TOPPENISH, Wash. -- A deadly fire near Gig Harbor claimed the life of a doctor who recently began working in Toppenish. Doctor Thomas Babson died along with his eight-year old daughter. KIMA spoke with Babson's colleagues in the ER.

Fellow doctors were stunned to learn Thomas Babson lost his life in a intense fire on Fox Island. Doctor Babson had just started working at Toppenish Community Hospital in August.

"It's more of a stunned feeling," said Zachary Hale. "Like you can't believe you were just talking to somebody and now they're gone right after."

Doctor Zachary Hale had known Babson for five years. They met while practicing medicine in Olympia. Hale had referred his friend to the part-time position in Toppenish. He said the ER lost not only a colleague, but a friend.

"All the nurses liked him," said Hale. "He was pretty popular on this staff."

Doctor Babson was scheduled to be back at work Friday.

"He was just a very interesting person to talk to," said Curtis Campbell. "You know, he would tell me stories about his four year olds and you know, the trouble they'd get into. Just typical parents stuff."

Babson was a father of three. He had eight-year old twins and a 12-year old daughter. Only two of the kids made it out safely. The twin daughter perished along with her father. Fire crews think Dr. Babson was trying to get to her in the burning home.

"He spoke of his family all the time," said Campbell. "His main interest was the SWAT team and the tactile aspect of the armed forces." 

He brought those qualities to work.

Babson was not only a doctor, but a full-fledged member of a SWAT team in the Seattle area. He was uniquely trained in both emergency medicine and hazardous situations. But, all that training was no match for this ferocious blaze.

"He was cherished here," said Hale. "We cherished him."

Now his colleagues are mourning the loss of a hero, and a friend.

Friday night the doctor's body was recovered from the charred home. Search dogs located him. His daughter's body was found yesterday.

It's not clear how the fire started.

The three survivors are recovering from smoke inhalation.