SALT LAKE CITY — Eight months ago, 27-year-old Sarah Hawley joined a group of young doctors entering the residency program at the University of Utah. The group became close and went on hikes, attended a weekly trivia night at a Salt Lake City bar, and spent countless hours together enduring long shifts at the hospital.
Monday night, that group of residents, as well as other community members, mourned the loss of their fellow intern and friend at a vigil hosted by the U. On Jan. 27, Hawley was killed in what police said was a murder-suicidein which her boyfriend, Travis Geddes, killed her and then himself in their Sugar House home. Police have not confirmed how Hawley died.
While they had only known Hawley for a few months, the impact her friends and colleagues said she had on their lives will last a lifetime.
"We are still reeling from shock and devastation as Sarah brightened the lives of everyone around her," said Sara Walker, a resident in Hawley's group. "I only met her last June during residency orientation but cannot fathom not having her in my life."
A slideshow of Hawley played behind the podium, showing photos of her laughing, hiking and goofing off in the hospital.
"Look at her smile, see who she is, all that she has filled her life with," said Sr. Chaplain with University Health, Reverend Susan Roberts, who lead the vigil. "This is who Sarah is. That someone chose to interrupt this life, someone chose to take the future from her. But while Sarah is no longer on this planet … with us, she still is with us."
Roberts invited the more than 50 people in attendance to speak about memories they shared with Hawley.
"She certainly was a wonderful physician, but more than that she was just an amazing human being," said Dr. Brian Vukelic, Hawley's resident advisor. "I hope that kind of everyone who knew her and those that didn't know her really grab on to the values that she had. Just really being open to loving everyone and getting to know where someones coming from and who they are as a person without any judgement."
Vukelic said Hawley's tragic death left him "shocked and crushed."
Hawley would go for a run after completing a 13-hour obstetrics shift, Walker recalled, and would still arrive early to the weekly trivia night.
"She lived every day to the fullest with seemingly boundless energy," she said. "As someone who is perpetually exhausted, I do not know how she did it."
Walker said Hawley was also a thoughtful person who cared deeply about those around her.
"Sarah was an incredibly compassionate person," she said. "She focused on the small things that most overlook. From picking up mail for people who are out of town, to picking up others at the airport."
Everyone who shared memories of Hawley noted how kind she was, and several said she was a better person than they were.Comment on this story
"Sarah was a better person than almost everyone in this room," agreed Winston Plunkett, another resident in Hawley's group. "When I was at my most cynical, Sarah was always the person to restore the thought of empathy and compassion for others to me. So I think that's another part of her legacy that's really important."
The vigil ended with participants linking arms, forming a circle and holding candles to honor Hawley. There was also an area for people to write notes and memories to share with her family.