The first president of the American College of Emergency Physicians has died after an automobile accident in Florida on Oct. 28.
John Wiegenstein, 74, and a passenger, his 6-year-old grandson, Parker Meyer, both of Naples, Fla., were involved in a two-car collision. Both were taken by air ambulance to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, where they died, police reported.
"Dr. Wiegenstein's name will be forever linked with the specialty of emergency medicine," says Robert Suter, the ACEP's new president, who had just taken the post when the accident occurred. "His leadership was instrumental in achieving recognition of the specialty just 25 years ago."
"Emergency physicians across the nation are shocked and grieved to hear about this tragedy," Suter, 43, says. "Many of us just saw him last week in San Francisco during our annual meeting."
Wiegenstein, a family physician, practiced in Lansing, Mich., in the 1960s and 1970s, and was one of eight physicians who founded the ACEP there in 1968. He was emergency medicine's first member of the American Medical Association's House of Delegates and worked to have emergency medicine recognized as a medical specialty in 1979. In 2001, the AMA gave Wiegenstein its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.
Suter, meanwhile, medical director of the emergency department at Spring Branch Medical Center in Houston, became the first osteopathic physician to lead the 23,000-member ACEP. He is also the first president who, before becoming a physician, worked full time as an emergency medical technician and paramedic.