Update: Utah State ME working to determine cause of Cullman doctor’s death


Dr. Lane Friedman / Cullman Internal Medicine

CULLMAN – The Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office is working to determine the cause of death of Dr. Lane Friedman, 62, an internist with Cullman Internal Medicine. Friedman died this week while hiking with his family in Spooky Gulch, a popular slot canyon located east of Hole in the Rock Road in Kane County, Utah. His body was located on Wednesday, June 28.

Dr. Erik Christensen with the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Friday afternoon that Friedman’s autopsy is complete. The Kane County Sheriff’s Office will release preliminary findings soon, if any are available. A complete autopsy report could take some time.

According to a statement from the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, issued June 28, Garfield County Dispatch received a call at approximately 7 p.m. June 27 about an overdue individual who had been hiking in Spooky Gulch.

A Garfield County deputy responded to the trailhead where he met with Friedman’s wife. She stated that she and her husband and two children had been hiking in the slot canyon on the 27th when they came to a rocky spot in the canyon and decided not to continue. While returning to the trailhead they became disoriented and made some wrong turns.

The two children also became ill from the heat and the family took shade under some trees. Friedman decided to try and hike to the top of a nearby hill to see if he could get his bearings and see which way to go. That was the last time Mrs. Friedman saw her husband, according to the statement.

After some rest, Mrs. Friedman and the children began hiking out and eventually made it back to their vehicle at the Dry Fork Trailhead, where she borrowed a phone from some other hikers and called for help.

The sheriff’s office said when the deputy arrived, it was late in the evening and getting dark and unsafe to start a ground search. The Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter was requested to help with the search for the next morning.

The helicopter search began at about 9 a.m. on June 28, and Friedman’s body was located about 1 p.m. His body was transported by the helicopter to Escalante. A medical investigator from the Kane County Sheriff’s Office responded to Escalante to continue the investigation.

Friedman’s body was transported to the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsy.

Friedman’s employer, Cullman Internal Medicine, issued a statement Thursday, saying, “Cullman Internal Medicine regrets to confirm the passing of Dr. Lane Friedman.  Reports from emergency personnel in Utah have determined that Dr. Friedman passed away while hiking with his family in Utah.  He will be missed sincerely here at Cullman Internal Medicine by his work family and his grateful patients.  We ask that you all keep his family in your prayers.”

The statement continued, “Cullman Internal Medicine is committed to continuing the excellent care here at our office that Dr. Friedman provided for his patients.  Letters will be sent to all of his patients to make them aware of the arrangements we have made for continuing their care here at Cullman Internal Medicine.  We look forward to hearing from each of them in the coming months and are happy to care for any urgent needs they have in the days and weeks to come.”

According to Cullman Internal Medicine's website, Friedman had been with the practice since May 2006. He is also listed as the medical director for Southern Care Hospice in Cullman since January 2011.

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