NEW PORT RICHEY — Jeffrey Baumrucker was a dentist who ate cheeseburgers and drank soda. He competed in triathlons and played hockey and climbed mountains and each year, he took his entire staff on a trip: San Francisco, New Orleans, New York, Chicago, his hometown, the place he and his wife left in 1983 for the Florida warmth.
Dr. Baumrucker had an infectiously sunny disposition, said Pam King, who worked as his dental hygienist for 21 years.
She retired two years ago but came back this week to help the staff deal with the sudden death of Dr. Baumrucker, who died Tuesday (Feb. 15, 2011) from injuries suffered in a Sunday motorcycle accident. He was 53.
More than two dozen area dentists have been volunteering their time, for free, to care for Dr. Baumrucker's patients. Hundreds of patients have been calling and stopping by the office, stunned, grieving.
"His patients loved him," King said.
Dr. Baumrucker had recently taken up motorcycle riding because a lot of his friends rode, King said. He was always looking for a new passion, a new challenge: golf, snow skiing, water sports. In 1999, he and 23 other dentists climbed Mount Rainier and raised $60,000 for charity.
"He was pretty intense about whatever he did," King said. She said he took care of himself, but he lived. He ate what he wanted and drank tea, even if it does stain your teeth.
"He was a regular guy," she said.
On Sunday afternoon, Dr. Baumrucker and another dentist, Paul Miller, 56, who also has a practice in New Port Richey, were riding to Aripeka to meet some friends. King said Dr. Baumrucker didn't own a motorcycle. He rode one of Miller's bikes.
About 3:25 p.m., the two dentists were stopped at a traffic light, side by side, at U.S. 19 and Little Road when a car rear-ended both bikes, sending Dr. Baumrucker and Miller into the intersection, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Both men were flown to St. Joseph's Hospital. Miller suffered a broken leg and was treated and released. Dr. Baumrucker died of his injuries.
The driver of the 1999 Honda Accord was Jennifer L. Maynard, a 29-year-old from New Port Richey. She had a 10-month-old baby in the car with her. Neither Maynard nor the child were injured, the FHP said.
Maynard has a spotty driving record. Her license has been suspended twice, most recently in 2009 for failing to pay traffic fines. Since 1999, she has received citations for careless driving, failing to obey traffic signs, five speeding tickets, driving on an expired tag and driving with a suspended license, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Charges are pending as the investigation continues, according to the FHP.
Dr. Baumrucker was a former president of the West Pasco Dental Association, the organization now working to keep his practice going. They aren't taking any new appointments, but they're keeping the ones Baumrucker already had, said Niles H. Kinnunen, who worked at Baumrucker's office Monday and Tuesday. He said dentists from as far as Lakeland, Tampa, Clearwater, Crystal River and Homosassa have volunteered their services.
"We're doing this for his family," Kinnunen said, "and for his memory."
Dr. Baumrucker and his wife have four daughters. Two are in college. Two are in high school.
Funeral services have not yet been arranged.
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6229.