Newport doctor called ‘compassionate and charitable’

A visitor pauses at the Ghost Bike-style memorial site on Newport Coast Drive on Monday for Dr. Catherine "Kit" Campion Ritz, who police say was killed by a hit-and-run driver Saturday. Campion Ritz, 57, of Irvine practiced at Newport Family Medicine.
(DON LEACH, Daily Pilot)

A cyclist killed in a weekend hit-and-run accident in Newport Coast was remembered Monday as an empathetic physician who practiced at Newport Family Medicine on Superior Avenue.

Dr. Catherine “Kit” Campion Ritz, 57, of Irvine was described by her husband, Patrick Ritz, as “a perfect person” who was devoted to being a good family practitioner and was “compassionate and charitable.”

For the past 18 years, Campion Ritz, who used her maiden name professionally, served as the president of Greater Newport Physicians.

“Dr. Kit Campion was a warm, engaging leader, respected and loved by her patients, physician colleagues, nurses and health-care professionals throughout Orange County,” said Diane Laird, CEO of Greater Newport Physicians, which has more than 550 members. “She worked tirelessly to ensure that members of all the communities we serve had access to the best health care.

“Dr. Campion cared for thousands of patients over the last three decades and played an important role in the health of so many Orange County families.”

She previously served as chairwoman of Hoag Hospital’s Department of Family Practice, according to Newport Family Medicine’s website, and in 1993 she became a member of Hoag’s Medical Executive Committee.

Campion Ritz also served as a member of the Orange County Disaster Medical Assistance Team for the U.S. National Disaster Medical System, according to the website.

“She brought to all of us a clear-headed approach to leadership and an incredible vision for the future of health care, inspiring everyone to ensure we always provided the best, most compassionate care, which was her hallmark,” Barry Arbuckle, president and CEO of MemorialCare Health System, said in a news release.

Campion Ritz snow-shoed, hiked, biked and kayaked. She often traveled with her husband. Together, they visited Europe and Canada, as well as Idaho, Washington, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New York and Wyoming, where they owned a home.

Campion Ritz graduated cum laude from UC Irvine with a degree in biological sciences in 1976, according to her practice’s website. She graduated from UCLA medical school in 1980 and was licensed to practice the following year.


Saturday accident

Campion Ritz was riding with another cyclist Saturday when she was struck by a black full-sized pickup truck about 9:45 a.m. on Newport Coast Drive between Ocean Ridge Drive and Vista Ridge Road, according to the Newport Beach Police Department.

Campion Ritz died at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo about four hours later, according to the Orange County coroner’s office.

Police believe the driver of the truck fled the scene.

On Monday, Newport Beach police continued their search for the driver. The truck was described by the other cyclist as possibly a Toyota Tacoma from the years 2001 to 2004 with significant damage to the front.

The other cyclist was not injured, according to Newport Beach police spokeswoman Kathy Lowe.

Campion Ritz was about four miles from her home at the time of the accident.

A Ghost Bike-style memorial along Newport Coast Drive has been set up in Campion Ritz’s memory. It contains a white bike, flowers, candles and a white helmet with Campion Ritz’s picture attached to it.

According to Ghost Bike’s website, such memorials are for bicyclists who were killed or hit on the street. The setups are “reminders of the tragedy that took place on an otherwise anonymous street corner, and [are] quiet statements in support of cyclists’ right to safe travel.”

Campion Ritz is survived by her husband and dog, Sandy, mother Corinne Campion, five siblings and four nephews, according to Greater Newport Physicians.

In lieu of flowers, family members have asked that donations be made to Casa Teresa, the Semper Fi Fund or Wounded Warrior Project.

Twitter: @lawilliams30