‘Here, everyone gets home alive’: O.C. doctor killed on bike ride remembered for saving lives
Before Michael Mammone was killed in an inexplicable act of violence, the emergency physician from Orange County saved lives on practically a daily basis and taught many to do the same, friends, relatives and colleagues said during a celebration of his life Thursday in Laguna Beach.
Those who knew the doctor described him as a loving father and husband who spent his life in the service of others. Mammone was riding his bicycle in Dana Point on Feb. 1 when he was struck from behind by a white Lexus whose driver then, apparently without provocation, stabbed him to death, authorities say.
Mammone, 58, leaves behind his wife, Julie, and two sons, Jack and Nick. He worked at Providence Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach and Mission Viejo.
“It is impossible to make sense of why Mike’s life on Earth was cut short,” Dr. Jennifer Mason, one of Mammone’s classmates at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, told more than 200 people gathered to honor his memory. “But I know he believed people on this Earth are good, and meant to do good.”
She said Mammone as a student carried himself with an infectious lightness and warmth that brought classmates together and helped them pull through their studies. Later, his personality would become a fountain of support for fellow front-line healthcare workers battling the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. Bill Dodge of Providence Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach.
Dr. Michael John Mammone, 58, was riding his bike when he was hit from behind by a car whose driver got out and stabbed him, Orange County sheriff’s officials said.
Dodge said Mammone always appeared calm and collected, even in the face of crisis. He seemed unfazed by the immense responsibility of being an emergency room doctor and “almost thrived on it.”
“He had this energy where, here, everyone gets home alive,” Dodge said.
Mammone began his career at San Antonio Regional Medical Center in Upland, where he trained paramedics and emergency medical technicians on top of his duties in the emergency room, nurse Stephanie Rasmussen said. She added that despite his status and education, he remained approachable and eager to help people learn.
“You could ask him a question without feeling stupid,” she said.
One of the first responders Mammone trained was Rasmussen’s son, Rancho Cucamonga Fire Capt. Steve Rasmussen, who said the doctor would come find him every night they worked together to ask about what he was learning.
He was one of many who said they learned how to save lives thanks to Mammone. Stephanie Rasmussen said that in the weeks since his death she has received a steady stream of messages from those who called him a mentor.
“Their words were all the same: ‘He was so good to us. We learned so much from Dr. Mammone. We are so grateful,’” she said. “In that, his legacy continues.”
Michael John Mammone died after being hit by a car and assaulted by its driver while bicycling in Dana Point, Orange County Sheriff’s Department says.
He never hesitated to help his friends, said neighbor Scott Davis, who remembered how his son sliced his foot open while horsing around with friends, but luckily the doctor was nearby to patch him up.
“How was it getting stitches? Were you scared?” Davis recalled asking his son.
“Mike made it fun,” the boy replied. “I’d really like to do it again.”
When he wasn’t treating patients or inspiring his peers and future generations of healthcare professionals, Mammone might be caught making “smoochie smoochie” phone calls to wife Julie, said Dr. Larry Potts of San Antonio Regional Medical Center. She loved visiting Laguna Beach, she said, and they moved to the coastal city with their two sons when a position opened up at Providence Mission Hospital in 2010.
During his time off, Mammone would bring his family and friends together for homemade meals, stimulating conversation and silly jokes, his eldest sister, Lisa Mammone, and other loved ones said. He enjoyed going to the ocean and snorkeling or scuba diving with his sons. He and Julie were planning to take sailing lessons together, as well as a trip to Italy to celebrate their 30th anniversary.
“We were so happy with our lives together ... you had so much left to do,” Julie Mammone said through tears. “He will not get to see his sons marry. He will not get to hold his grandchildren.”
The driver accused of killing Mammone, Vanroy Evan Smith, 39, of Long Beach, remained in the Orange County sheriff’s custody as of Thursday. Criminal proceedings against him were on hold pending the results of a hearing scheduled Wednesday to determine if he is psychologically fit to stand trial.
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