Officials with Carilion Clinic say a cardiologist was found murdered in Belize Sunday.
Dr. Gary Swank was the medical director of Carilion Clinic’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab and an associate professor of internal medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.
Authorities tell the San Pedro Sun that Swank and his tour guide – both 53-years-old – were found shot to death Sunday morning while fly fishing in Belize. It also says the shooters pulled up in a boat next to Swank’s, and that local police are still investigating.
“I think that he made a huge difference in my life,” said Rhonda Saunders, a 10-year patient of Swank’s. “He was a really, really nice guy. He did talk about his family.”
Saunders described Swank as talented, thorough, and approachable. She says she had a 99% blockage in a blood vessel that he stinted to keep her alive.
“If he had not been the type of doctor that he was, I probably would not have seen him. Our meeting- first meeting was in the E.R.,” she said. She adds that she’s still coping with his untimely death.
“I was stunned, I was shocked, I had tears because I was so excited about seeing him at my next visit,” she said.
Carilion has not released any information beyond this official statement.
Read the statement below:
“Today we learned the tragic news that Dr. Gary Swank, interventional cardiologist, medical director of Carilion Clinic’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab and an associate professor of internal medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, was found murdered, along with his local tour guide, in Belize yesterday.
We are heartbroken at his loss. Dr. Swank was a well-respected and well-loved colleague who, each and every day, embodied the values that we hold dear. His absence leaves a void in our team and in our community. Our thoughts, prayers and attention are now focused on helping his family navigate this difficult time.-CHRISTOPHER TURNBULL, DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS