News Local

Man killed in bus crash was a Massachusetts father and doctor

Patrick Johnston

A photo of Dr. Michael Plevyak, the 49 year old man who died in a bus crash on Sunday near Canada Place in Vancouver. Plevyak was a obstetrician in Springfield, Mass.

A photo of Dr. Michael Plevyak, the 49 year old man who died in a bus crash on Sunday near Canada Place in Vancouver. Plevyak was a obstetrician in Springfield, Mass.

The man who died in a bus crash outside Canada Place on Sunday has been identified as Dr. Michael Plevyak, an obstetrician from Springfield, Mass.

A colleague at the University of Massachusetts Medical School-Baystate, Dr. Daniel Grow, said his friend was the heart of his group of physicians, who specialize in maternal fetal medicine.

"It's almost unbelievable," Grow, a professor and former chair of Baystate Health's department of obstetrics and gynecology, said Tuesday by phone. "Someone who was a really big part of our department, our group, is just gone. It's just shocking."

Grow and Plevyak were two of four maternal fetal medicine doctors for all of western Massachusetts, meaning patients literally travelled hundreds of miles to see him.

And as an an assistant professor of obstetrics, Plevyak's impact on students was apparently vast.

"He was very well respected as a teacher," Grow said. "There were residents who came to train at Baystate just because of him."

One former student told Grow that Plevyak once ran a Jeopardy-themed trivia session to quiz his students, which included an entire category on the movie Elf.

"He always had a big smile. He always had a spring in his step," Grow added. "A warm greeting, a big hello for everybody."

Many former patients took to Facebook to express sorrow about his passing. Many of the women credited him with saving their baby during pregnancy, or simply commended him for the care he offered to his patients.

"I owe my life and my babies' lives to him," Kelly-Jean Haygood told Postmedia. "He was very compassionate about his patients. He made sure he gave you his undivided attention when he was with you.

"I'm so devastated about his loss."

Haygood said she had a "touch and go" pregnancy with twins.

Her twins suffered from twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, a rare condition where the babies share a placenta and form abnormal blood vessel connections. Blood can flow unevenly between them.

At 35 weeks, she though she was in labour, but it turned out she was showing symptoms of congestive heart failure.

"He was there to help me stay calm," she said. While nurses and doctors rushed about, working to keep her alive, she "focused on him to try to remain calm."

Later, while she was in intensive care, Plevyak checked on her.

"Through all the madness, he stayed calm, which was reassuring."

Plevyak was a marathon runner who ran often with his teenage son as well as with Grow. His daughter is a competitive swimmer and the family was "a big presence" in the local swimming community. She was also injured in Sunday's crash.

His wife, Sudeep, is originally from Canada. She's also a doctor at Baystate Health. Her father was believed to be the other person seriously injured on Sunday.

The family travelled often and had been to India, Europe and parts between.

Grow said more than a hundred colleagues gathered early this morning at the hospital to hold a brief ceremony in Plevyak's memory.

His impact was obvious in how fondly the many doctors, nurses and other colleagues spoke of their late friend.

"It was just very touching this morning, the outpouring of tears," he said. "Clear friendships, from nurses and physicians — it was clear he was someone who touched many."