LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – A Louisville doctor died Sunday after hitting a tree while skiing in Park City, Utah.
Those close to Ivan Ljubic told WAVE 3 News he and his friends were cutting from one ski run to another, when he lost his balance, slammed into a tree, and hit his head. His friends said he was wearing a helmet, but he told them he couldn’t feel his legs after the impact.
“Ivan Ljubic, a titan of the Bosnian-American community in Louisville, Kentucky passed on February 16, 2020, in a Salt Lake City hospital following a skiing accident,” Djenita Pasic, a friend who was writing Ljubic’s obituary, read aloud.
The doctor leaves behind his wife Mary Ann, two children and a large community of friends.
"We're all sick, basically," Pasic said. "I think Mary Ann said that her soul and her heart are dead, but her body keeps moving because she has to keep moving to keep this family alive."
Pasic tried to find the right words to describe her friend.
“He was larger than life in every possible way,” Pasic said.
At six-foot-seven, she said friends and family called the longtime Louisville doctor ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Big Balkan’. Pasic said his large stature was dwarfed by his massive personality. She said he was always smiling and laughing.
The Bosnian immigrant made Louisville his home after war broke out in his former country. Pasic said immigrants in Louisville saw Ljubic as a doctor they trusted and could relate to.
"He left us doing what he loved doing and he was surrounded by so many that loved him," Pasic read aloud from the obituary. "His legacy will live forever in our hearts."
Pasic said Ljubic and his wife shared messages of love until he died on Sunday.
“[She said] that she loved him,” Pasic said. “Thanked him for the beautiful life that they’ve forged together and had shared everything she had to share with him before he passed. So, in that, there is a good thing.”
Pasic said she will remember Ljubic as a compassionate person, who brought people together.
“He knew he was loved; everybody was around him in a way, and he passed without any pain, and we love him still,” she said.
The family originally set up a GoFundMe account to fly him home from Utah, for further medical care, but now the funds will be used to the pay medical expenses and to support his family, including his daughter and son.