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Dr. John Ciliberti, former emergency medical director with Overlake, dies in Fall City plane crash | UPDATE

Dr. John Ciliberti, the former medical director of the emergency department at Overlake Hospital Medical Center, was identified by the King County Medical Examiner as the victim in a Cessna 182 plane crash in Fall City on July 8.

Ciliberti died of multiple lacerations to his organs and fractures to his skull and extremities, the examiner's office reported.

The plane crashed the morning of July 8 at the Snoqualmie Falls golf course, during business hours and shortly before the beginning of a tournament. No one other than Ciliberti was harmed.

The National Transportation Safety Board has said a preliminary report will be released within two weeks. An account of the accident was reported by the Snoqualmie Valley Record.

Ciliberti was the medical director of Overlake's emergency department from 1982 to 2005. He was hired at a time when institutionalized emergency care was still nonstandard in hospitals and often handled by volunteers from other specialty departments, said current director Dr. Steve Marshall. Marshall was hired by Ciliberti in 1986 as one of the department's dedicated emergency care staff.

"(Jack) really got it organized into a practical operation," said Marshall. "He set the tone for how an emergency department should be run, through how he set it up and through the doctors he hired.

"He was a very hard worker ... he was tenaciously passionate about his patients."

Ciliberti was a humble and equitable man who would go to bat for the rights and dignity of his patients, according to a statement written to the Reporter by wife, Molly Ciliberti, and their children.

In one instance, she wrote, Ciliberti discovered his night shift doctors had been unhappy that patients were waiting until 2 a.m. to come to the emergency department for abdominal pain. Ciliberti told them to try to understand their predicament: hurt and afraid in the dark, desperate for help.

"We are that help," he told the staff, according to his wife.

"He was the physician that you hoped you would have," she wrote. "There is a hole in the hearts of those who love him that cannot be healed."

Ciliberti also served as medical director of the Bellevue Fire Department's Medic One program, helping to train medics in facilitating emergency care.

He began practicing medicine in 1971, after earning his medical degree from Emory University. He completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Washington.

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