Dr. Andrew Bourne, 46, the former chief of staff at Mammoth Hospital  and implicated as a possible suspect in an ongoing child sex investigation in Santa Barbara, died Tuesday, authorities said.
Mono County Sheriff’s Dispatch received a 911 call Tuesday afternoon at about 4 p.m. regarding a deceased male who was found on Hot Creek Hatchery Road east of the town of Mammoth Lakes area.
Bourne, who lived with his family in The Trails section of Mammoth Lakes, was found by his spouse, Gilann and friends and family, after a search for Bourne started earlier that day.
Bourne's body was found after his attorney, Ron Bamieh, managing partner of Bamieh and Erickson , initiated a search for him after a morning telephone call.
"I was optimistic about Andy’s defense and he knew that," Bamieh said in a press release distributed by the law firm Wednesday.
"I spoke to Andy yesterday morning and expressed that optimism, and I have gone over our conversation in my head many times trying to figure out if there was any indication of what was to occur later that day.
"I regret not being alert enough to understand what Andy was thinking when we spoke. I tried my best to prevent this tragedy but unfortunately my efforts were not enough."
According to the press release, the hunt for Bourne began in the early afrternoon on Tuesday.
"A few hours after their morning conversation, Mr. Bamieh became concerned for Dr. Bourne’s well being and began to make a series of phone calls and inquiries in an attempt to locate Dr. Bourne.
"From approximately 1:30 p.m. until Dr. Bourne was found at 3:45 p.m., a search was being conducted with Mr. Bamieh’s assistance to locate Dr. Bourne. At approximately 3:30 p.m., the company who monitored the GPS device on Dr. Bourne’s court-ordered ankle bracelet called Mr. Bamieh and provided Dr. Bourne’s location.
"Mr. Bamieh conveyed that information to family and friends of Dr. Bourne, who rushed to that location where they found him. Family and friends of Dr. Bourne notified authorities.
"Bamieh notified the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office at approximately 4:30 p.m.
"Bamieh stated: 'Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Bourne family. Obviously yesterday was a difficult day for all of us here at the firm. Andy, in the time I got to know him, was an intelligent and gifted man, who had done so much good throughout his life.'"
The cause of death is currently under investigation by the Mono County Sheriff’s Department , Hansen said.
Few details emerged from the investigation, but the sheriff's department said, "foul play is not suspected in the cause of death."
Bourne was a well-known and respected surgeon in Mammoth. He was arrested in Mammoth on Jan. 4 on suspicion of several counts of "illegal communication with a minor with the intent to facilitate sexual activity.”
Police arrested another Mammoth man, Joseph Walker, 48, on several counts of the same crime.
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 emails that the Santa Barbara District Attorney said implicated the men were discovered by the minor's parent(s).
Authorities also charged Walker with one count of a "lewd act with a child." There were no such charges leveled against Bourne at the time of his death.
Bamieh last week said the emails that the Santa Barbara District Attorney say implicated Bourne in a crime were "innocuous."
The Santa Barbara Senior Deputy District Attorney, 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 on Jan. 4 and then moved to a Santa Barbara jail. They were released on Jan. 10 on $750,000 bail each.
They were due in Santa Barbara court again on Feb. 10 for a hearing.
On Jan. 25, the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper quoted the Santa Barbara District Attorney who was prosecuting Bourne, Joyce Dudley , as saying Bourne committed suicide, but Dudley would neither confirm not deny she said this.
She said Wednesday morning, “I cannot confirm that, only your coroner can.
“I will not engage in a conversation as to what other media may or may not have been told,” she said. “I will continue to address your questions related to the criminal prosecution of this case.”
On Thursday, she said, "The entire situation is heart wrenching.”
Charges will be dropped against Bourne "and amended as to Mr. Walker," she said.
"When we file the amended complaint, we will issue a press release," she said.
The official cause of death may not be available for several weeks, according to Hansen. An autopsy scheduled for Wednesday was postponed to Friday, she said Thursday morning. But that might not be enough to determine the cause of death.
"Until a toxicology report, also in progress, is completed, the sheriff’s department cannot determine the cause of death." she said. "These results can take a couple of weeks to get returned to us. 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. He resigned from that position on Jan. 13. His contract with Mammoth Hospital was terminated shortly after.
“What a terrible, terrible tragedy,” said Mammoth Unified School District Superintendent, Rich Boccia on Tuesday. “Our prayers are with the family.”
“We are all shocked and saddened to hear of the tragic death of Dr. Andrew Bourne," said Gary Boyd, the hospital's CEO. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, staff and colleagues at Mammoth Hospital. Dr. Bourne was an excellent physician and friend to many. He will be greatly missed."
"I have contacted the Sheriff’s office to let them know that Mammoth Hospital will cooperate in any way with their investigation of the circumstances surrounding Dr. Bourne’s death.”
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 .
Before 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.
Bourne served as Vice Chief of Staff at Mammoth Hospital from 2008-2010 and was the Chief of Staff from the beginning of 2010.
He also served on the Mammoth Unified School District Board since 2008 before resigning earlier this month. 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, Bourne participated in a volunteer trauma surgery program at the U.S. Army Landstuhl Medical Center , caring for casualties of conflicts in the Middle East.
In addition to his wife, Bourne is survived by two children.
A Celebration of Life Ceremony for Bourne will be held Saturday, Feb. 4, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cerro Coso Community College common room (where the grand piano is).
A fund for the benefit of Gilann Bourne & Family has been set up at the Eastern Sierra Community Bank in Mammoth Lakes. In lieu of sending flowers, contributions may be made to “FBO Gilann Bourne & Family” (Account # 5015553) and dropped off or mailed to:
Eastern Sierra Community Bank 307 Old Mammoth Rd. P.O. Box 5069 Mammoth Lakes, Calif., 93546 .
Call 760-923-1500 for more information.
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