This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A prominent Utah doctor has been dismissed from a wrongful death lawsuit involving a southwestern Colorado wilderness therapy program.
Last week, a 3rd District Judge approved a request from both sides to dismiss the claim against Keith R. Hooker, who worked for decades at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center before retiring this year, in connection with the 2007 death of 15-year-old Caleb Jensen.
An attorney for Hooker said he could not comment on the dismissal agreement, citing confidentiality issues.
"He was never called with regard to any of the symptoms that were going on in the field," attorney Dennis Ferguson said. "That became apparent through the course of discovery."
Ferguson called Hooker, who was named the state's top physician in 2010, "a very good and very caring doctor."
"We finally just put an end to this," he said.
The now-defunct Alternative Youth Adventures of Colorado, its parent company and the program's director are among the remaining defendants in the wrongful death suit, which seeks $45 million in damages.
The lawsuit alleges that Jensen died in southwestern Colorado, where he had been sent by Utah juvenile justice officials, from a staphylococcus infection that went untreated despite his symptoms.
In 2009, a Colorado grand jury handed down indictments against Hooker and others involved with AYA and its New Jersey-based parent Community Education Centers Inc. but all criminal matters were later dismissed.
A CEC spokesman on Friday said the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.
According to indictments, Jensen was admitted to the wilderness program in March 2007 and began showing symptoms of illness the next month.
In his journal, the teen wrote that he was "burning up, vomiting and having trouble hiking."
The boy spent his last week of life lying in his own urine and feces, the court documents alleged.
Field staff said they called officials at AYA base camp but no one responded and no medical attention was ordered, according to the indictments.
Efforts to reach Jensen's family and their attorney this week were unsuccessful.