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Deceased doctor remembered as having 'positive impact' in emergency room, courtroom

VANCOUVER -

Friends and colleagues of a well-respected physician, who suddenly disappeared and was later found deceased, are mourning the sudden loss.

According to police, Dr. Tracy Pickett, 55, was reported missing on Wednesday, prompting a large search at Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Her remains were discovered Thursday evening.

“It's a tremendous shock. I can tell you that Tracy was one of those people who when she'd show up for a shift, she would always, like, have a positive impact on the people around her,” said Dr. Afshin Khazei, who’s known Pickett since medical school.

Pickett has a vast resume: emergency room physician, jail physician, former UBC clinical professor, past president of the Medical Legal Society of BC and medical forensic expert.

“Despite her accomplishments, she was incredibly humble, kind, thoughtful and caring. And so when you would work with her, you would feel that she would value you as a person. She was very approachable. And whether you are a first year medical student or you know, a colleague, she would treat everybody the same,” he said.

Khazei remembers how Pickett first got into the field of forensic medicine.

“She felt very strongly about the need for justice and getting people that were victimized a strong voice, and also achieving closure for families of these victims,” he said.

EXPERT WITNESS AT TRIAL

In the days leading up to her disappearance, she was testifying in a B.C. murder trial.

“Many of us have had to testify in court for a variety of circumstances, which adds a significant burden and layer of complexity and strain to your personal life,” explained Dr. Josh Greggain, president of Doctors of BC.

“I'll speak for me on behalf of my colleagues, when you come up to those situations, you don't sleep very well and you're worried about the outcome and you just never know whether justice will be served.”

Since the pandemic, physicians have faced increasing mental health challenges.

At a talk about Forensic Emergencies, Dr. Pickett encouraged attendees to be aware of their well-being.

“Look after your own mental health, especially if you’re the subject of legal action. Sometimes these cases take years,” she said in the 2018 video. “It’s OK to talk about how the case makes you feel with a loved one or a family doc or someone you trust, but you can’t talk about the details of the case. It can be gut wrenching; it can be very, very difficult.” 

Vancouver police said preliminary evidence doesn’t suggest she died of a crime. They would not comment if she died by suicide, adding it is now a BC Coroner Service investigation.

Dr. Khazei said it is unlikely that she would’ve taken her own life.

“She was the medical director of a sexual assault service. She was a champion of helping victims of these horrible crimes gain closure and justice. So to leave a case halfway through that would be really out of character that would really surprise me that she would do that as a choice,” he explained.

Pickett leaves behind her husband and two adult daughters.  

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