Boston Children’s Hospital researcher killed in climbing accident on Mount Washington
Jeremy Ullmann, a promising epilepsy researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital, had a passion for climbing, and when he and a relative approached a rough stretch of terrain on Mount Washington on Feb. 10, he was undeterred.
“My brother-in-law turned back because he thought it wasn’t safe, but Jeremy continued by himself,” his widow, Kylie Ullmann, said Thursday. “He said that he was going to be back by 4 o’clock.”
But he never returned. Ullmann, 37, was killed in a fall on an icy gully of Huntington Ravine, according to officials at the Mount Washington Avalanche Center in New Hampshire. His body was found around 7:45 p.m. that evening.
“He just loved the mountains,” Kylie Ullmann said. “He felt like that was home for him.”
She said her husband was an experienced climber who had trekked across peaks in Australia, Papua New Guinea, and elsewhere.
“He was an avid adventurer, and he just had a really big love of life,” she said. “And he was always a go-getter. He went out there, and he just didn’t have any fears about going and getting what he wanted. He was very passionate and very loving toward everyone he met.”
The couple met when Ullmann was studying for his doctorate at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, where a shared love of rock climbing took hold.
“He got me into it as well,” she said. “So we would go rock climbing every weekend with our friends on the east coast of Australia.”
After their son, Oscar, was born three years ago, they took him on camping and hiking excursions in the Boston area and New Hampshire. “We’d show little Oscar the world around him,” she said.
The family lived in Somerville.
Ullmann was part of a cutting-edge epilepsy research team at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he was a post-doctoral fellow.
“His untimely death is deeply felt here,” the hospital said in a statement. “Jeremy was passionate about his work and devoted to his family.”
His biography on the hospital’s website described him as a neuroscientist “with extensive experience in imaging and zebrafish models of neurodegenerative disease.”
Zebrafish and humans have a similar genetic makeup.
None of his relatives had epilepsy, but Ullmann put in long hours at a job he loved, Kylie Ullmann said.
“He loved families and children,” she said. “He was honored to be able to translate that research on zebrafish to a good cause, and he was very passionate about his work.”
Friends of the couple have started a GoFundMe page for Kylie and her young son.
In a statement, the Avalanche Center provided details of Ullmann’s death without identifying him by name.
At 4:45 p.m. on Feb. 10, Forest Service snow rangers were alerted to an overdue climber, and search and rescue teams scoured terrain at Huntington Ravine and below Ullmann’s intended route.
He had been attempting to climb “a moderately difficult snow and ice climb called Central Gully,” the statement said. “Icy surface conditions that developed in the mountains following several days of warm temperatures and rain increased the danger of long sliding falls the day of the accident.”
Frank Carus of the US Forest Service told New Hampshire Public Radio that Ullmann fell more than 300 feet into an area known as the Fan.
“The scratches on the snow indicate that he made an attempt to arrest,” Carus said. “He had two ice axes, one of which dragged quite well through the snow for a long distance.”
Ullmann was born in Germany but grew up in Vestal, N.Y. He received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Brandeis University, according to his death notice. He earned a doctorate in neuroscience at Queensland.
“Already as a young and promising researcher he broke new pathways in brain mapping,’’ the death notice said.