Dr. Andrew Bourne, 46, the former chief of staff at Mammoth Hospital and subject of an ongoing criminal investigation in Santa Barbara, died Tuesday, authorities said.
The cause of death is currently under investigation by the Mono County Sheriff’s Department, according to department spokesperson Jennifer Hansen.
A department e-mail distributed to the media Tuesday afternoon states police found Bourne “unresponsive” in the Mammoth Lakes area at about 4 p.m.
Few details have emerged from the investigation, but the Sheriff’s Department said, “foul play is not suspected in the cause of death.”
Bourne, a well-known and respected surgeon in Mammoth, was arrested in the mountain town on Jan. 4 on suspicion of several counts of “illegal communication with a minor with the intent to facilitate sexual activity,” along with another Mammoth man, Joseph Walker, who was also arrested on several charges of the same nature.
The two men were then charged by the Santa Barbara District Attorney with several counts each of “unlawful contact with a child with the intent to commit a sexual crime” after e-mails that the Santa Barbara District Attorney said implicated the men were discovered by the minor’s parent. Bourne’s attorney said the e-mails so far were “innocuous.”
Walker was also charged with one count of a “lewd act with a child.” Santa Barbara D.A. Mary Barron said last week that she intended to press more charges against both men at a future time.
The two men were jailed in Mono County, then moved to a Santa Barbara jail, then released on Jan. 10 on $750,000 bail each.
They were due in Santa Barbara court again on Feb. 10 for a hearing.
Reports posted online by Santa Barbara news sources that Bourne had committed suicide cannot be confirmed and any such determinations, according to local authorities, are in fact premature at this point in the investigation.
The official cause of death may not be available for several weeks, according to Hansen. She said Wednesday morning that an autopsy was tentatively scheduled for sometime Wednesday, but until a toxicology report, also in progress, is completed, the Sheriff’s Department cannot determine the cause of death.
“These results can take a couple of weeks to get returned to us,” Hansen said. “We cannot determine cause of death until both the autopsy and toxicology results/reports are finalized and have come in.”
Bourne was also a member of the Mammoth Unified School District school board since 2008. He resigned from that position on Jan. 13 and his contract with Mammoth Hospital was terminated shortly after.
“What a terrible, terrible tragedy,” said Mammoth Unified School District Superintendent Rich Boccia. “Our prayers are with the family.”
Bourne was board certified in Surgery and Vascular Surgery by the American Board of Surgery, according to his biography on the Mammoth Hospital website.
He completed a bachelor’s degree from Loma Linda University and a medical degree from the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse N.Y., where he also performed postgraduate training in pathology.
He completed an internship at Emanuel Hospital in Portland, Ore., and a General Surgical Residency as well as a Vascular Surgical Fellowship at the University of Utah Medical Center in 2001.
He received formal endovascular training at the University of Rochester.
Prior to coming to Mammoth Hospital in 2006, he was a partner in Northwest Surgical Specialists in Eugene, Ore., for almost six years and was on staff at Sacred Heart Medical Center and McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center in Eugene and Springfield, Ore.
Bourne was a founding director of the Oregon Heart and Vascular Institute and was an Adjunct Professor at the University of Oregon where he taught human physiology. He had extensive training and experience in laparoscopic surgery and endoscopy.
He was a member of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the only medical society that requires documentation of specific training in GI endoscopic procedures. He was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada School of Medicine.
Bourne served as Vice Chief of Staff at Mammoth Hospital from 2008-2010 and was the Chief of Staff from the beginning of 2010.
In addition to local community service, he volunteered his surgical skills for medical mission work in countries including Mexico, Jamaica and the Philippines.
In 2008, he participated in a volunteer trauma surgery program at the U.S. Army Landstuhl Medical Center, caring for casualties of conflicts in the Middle East.
He was married and had two children.