Peter Hass Dies During Kaiser Permanente Marathon, City Investigates

Categories: Health, Local News
Update: San Francisco's Department of Emergency Services investigate whether race organizers had an appropriate medical emergency plan in place. Read more at the bottom.



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Man down at the finish line
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Amid the crowds and unusual heatwave that hit San Francisco Saturday afternoon, a runner died at the finish line after nearly completing the Kaiser Permanente half-marathon.

The 36-year-old Orinda man, who has been identified as Peter Hass, had been running for two hours when he collapsed. Witnesses say that Hass didn't have a "fighting chance," since medical staff and paramedics didn't arrive for another 20 minutes.

After Hass fell to the ground, race volunteers pleaded for help. An announcer made repeated calls for medical assistance, yet only runners standing around came to Hass' aid and performed CPR, according to media reports.

So why were there no paramedics or medical staff at the finish line of a long-distance race sponsored by one of the state's largest health care providers?

Marc Brown, a Kaiser spokesman, provided only the following statement:

"Kaiser Permanente is a promotional sponsor of the San Francisco half marathon, which does not include operations, management, or staffing the medical response.  We are working with the race organizers and others  to understand the facts surrounding this incident."

The race was organized by Rhodyco, which has been producing major fitness events for more than 20 years, according to its web site.

Company reps with Rhodyco sent a statement, saying paramedics were stationed at the finish line, yet had been called away to help another distressed runner at the time that he had collapsed . The tragedy sparked conversation on Kaiser Permanente's Facebook page, where participants and spectators described what they saw.

"He laid there for 31 minutes (I counted) without true medical support, other than the CPR being provided by staff at the finish line. Where were the paramedics? No defibrillator at the finish line? No ambulance at the finish line? You've got to be kidding right?" one comment reads.

City officials with the Department of Emergency Services said every event being held in the city must submit an emergency response plan for approval. In this case, race organizers did submit a plan that met the city's minimum requirements for emergency aid and response. However, city officials are investigating whether that plan was fully implemented, said Rob Dudgeon, deputy director with the San Francisco Department of Emergency Services.

Event organizers are supposed to provide their own medical teams so that events do not tax the city's emergency 911 system, Dudgeon said.

"We had a death at a race, and we had the city's 911 system pulled in to provide medical assistance," Dudgeon said. "  So I'd say that the assets dedicated to the race were insufficient. We are investigating." 

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Sam
Sam

This is a real tragedy. I'm unsure, however, whether the gut response of assigning guilt and blame will prevent another death at a mass-participation running event. This should be the focus and purpose of any and all punitive action taken against the race organizers.

This is not an isolated incident. If you have been following the sport then you know that there has been an increase in deaths at running events as they have grown to sizes bordering on absurdity. In fact, every major marathon I have run in has seen at least one fatality. It's a worrisome trend. It seems almost assured now that if there is a relative temperature increase the day of a major event, someone, usually an adult male, will die from heart failure.

The medical resources of the race were stretched thin as Bay area runners wilted in the warmer temperatures. As there were runners down with medical issues throughout the latter half of the course, then this must have been critical in Hass not receiving care. One of the immediate witnesses watched three other runners collapse as Hass was dying. How many medics should a race have? I think it's obvious that there were not enough on hand at the race given the number of people who were in distress.

Let's assume that Peter Hass was well-trained for the event. Should we blame the race directors for not providing enough support? Or perhaps the other runners who skipped reading the waiver, decided that a half-hour of jogging on a treadmill was sufficient for a half-marathon, and then sucked up medical resources when things went pear-shaped in the heat? These are the folks who frustrate me. Perhaps they should bear a share of the blame in this tragedy.

Should race fees increase to an even higher level than they currently are to pay for the extra help (which I'm sure is not cheap)? Or should entries be capped for better race management? Or perhaps we should start frowning upon the notion that anyone can and should run a distance event?

I am not defending the race organizers. If incompetence played a role in this, than I hope it is brought to light. However, I think this is likely a more systemic problem of mass participation. I'm just unsure how much you can plan and pay your way out of disaster when there are simply too many people running in these events.

I hope my comments are not taken as inflammatory, I just hoped to add another nuance to the discussion.

Gamazek
Gamazek

I was a runner to and saw many other patients needing help. If they saved him, someone else would have taken his place. Personally, I think it was whoever made the races fault . Some hate kaiser for this event. To me, they where just a sponsor. Nothing more. I also think the paramedics gave it their best shot. Too bad the best was not enough. I also blame traffic.

Mikan_man
Mikan_man

I don't think anyone will be replaced nor in danger if they have prepared enough man power.. Hey! It's a marathon ! Don't tell me you didn't know it would be that many ppl need help! They should be prepared and nothing will happened if they did... "a lot of other runners need help too" is not an excuse...

Guest
Guest

I am very sorry that in 2011 a life is lost at a marathon that should promote health and better life.

My thoughts go to Mr. Hass family. There is nothing in the world that can bring back his life. I am astonished by the lack of the medical team.

Also I have to express the fact that there should never be lack of medical team(s) on the premises of such an event. There is no excuse from the organizers.

bay_runner
bay_runner

honestly pretty badly organized from the get-go. I've never run the Kaisar and never will at this point. Another reason they should start half marathons at 7am. Yeah the weather was a fluke, but honestly runners don't mind waking up early for a race. It gets progressively hotter the later in the day and in my opinion slower runners are more likely to be unprepared for harsh conditions. So shifting the race an hour earlier may have helped with the heat issues. Even the US Half which is in November starts at 7am.

Giantswintheworldseries
Giantswintheworldseries

Does anyone know what killed him?

steve
steve

no one knows how he died yet--autopsy not completed yet, will take several weeks the news said.

a friend of mine died at bay to breakers in 2003 only half a mile from the finish. he collapsed right behind me. he was foaming at the mouth and having seizures. paramedics arrived almost immediately, they did their work with the defibbrilators. but he died. he was only 28 years old and physically active and healthy, or so everyone thought. he did not die from improper medical care or lack of it. he died from a genetic condition unknown to him--nothing would have saved him that day.

how peter hass died is unknown--all the facts have not been gathered, and yet the fire dept is blaming rhodyco without even talking to rhodyco. calling anyone or any dept the cause of this man's death is pointless b/c, well, it's pretty simple--no one knows what caused his death yet.

Steve
Steve

should also be noted that rhodyco has worked with the city & county of SF and all of its permitting agencies to stage races around the city for 3 decades, including this half marathon for 15 years. they are well regarded and the best at what they do, and only the most unusual of circumstances could have contributed to what happened at the half marathon on Sunday. circumstances that remain to be known.

Carmi
Carmi

I saw the whole thing when the tragedy occurred! I was standing at the finish line waiting for my cousin just across where he collapsed. When he collapsed and and fell flat on his face.. His forehead hit the pavement and started bleeding. I saw one of the runners who just finished the race help Mr. Peter Hass and started doing CPR. A lady started yelling If there's a doctor on site. It took about 30 mins for the firemen to response and be on site. I saw that his face down to his neck is already blue. After the medics came and did CPR and defibrillation on him they pronounce him dead. My prayers goes out to his family..

Amber AS
Amber AS

I crossed the finish line at 2:24 (clock time) and paramedics in front of an ambulance were doing vigorous chest compressions. The crowd was not "hysterical" at all (so insulting to say that!) but extremely clam and quiet. I saw and heard fire trucks all up and down the access road on the beach and saw paramedics RUNNING down the path to help the runner down at mile 10 (anyone know her status?) and saw another runner at 12.5 getting an IV from paramedics much later. I saw not a single first aid station or tent, not even at the finish line. My thoughts are with Mr. Hass's family and friends, and I hope we can all learn something from this; runners, city and organizers alike.

Michael
Michael

Hello, I am Peter Hass's brother. No family members or close friends were at this running event with Peter, and we are still trying to make sense of what led to my little brother's death. If anyone has any informaiton, or was a witness to this horrible tragedy, can you please contact me and share your experience. mhasscivil@yahoo.com

Thank you for your time.

Michael Hass

gleek
gleek

Disturbing comments by Mr. Rhody. I was there and finished around the same time as Mr. Hass. Rhody said "...no delays in getting medical aid..." If your first responders are people in running bibs doing CPR, I say that there was definitely a delay.

Rhody goes on to say that an EMT was on the scene within five minutes. Can dozens of eyewitnesses be wrong? Is he counting the runners who helped as part of his medical staff? And to say that people's eyewitness accounts are "hysterical"??? Outright insulting!!!Overall, just poor choice of comments from Mr. Rhody. One way I know of to make sure this (insufficient medical staffing) doesn't happen again is to boycott any RhodyCo produced races.

In honor of Mr. Hass, please join me and a few dozens of other fellow runners who I know are doing so, in refusing to participate in any RhodyCo events until they make the necessary changes.

Michael
Michael

Hello Gleek, I am Peter Hass's brother can you please contact me and tell me what you saw at the half marathon on sunday. mhasscivil@yahoo.com

Thanks

Michael Hass

Racer9
Racer9

I ran the race and have NEVER seen such a lack of medics ona course, ever. People were fallen ALL OVER THE PLACE. No, not all were facing cardiac arrest, but all needed a medic. This was by FAR least supported race I have ever run in.

Mhasscivil
Mhasscivil

Hello Racer9, I am Peter Hass's brother can you please contact me and tell me what you saw at the half marathon on sunday. No family members or close friends were at this event with my little brother when he died. We just do not understand how this horrible thing happened. Please contact me. mhasscivil@yahoo.com

Thanks

Michael Hass

Tatumn
Tatumn

I've ran several half marathons and marathons. Never have I seen anything like what I saw yesterday. There was no medical staff to be seen anywhere along the course, to few water stations and only two electrolyte stations! I will never run this race again, what happened to Peter should have never happened. My heart goes out to his family.

Mhasscivil
Mhasscivil

Hello Tatum9, My name is Michael Hass, I am Peter Hass's older brother can you please contact me and tell me what you saw at the half marathon on sunday. None of us were at this event when my little brother died. We just do not understand how this horrible thing happened. Please contact me. mhasscivil@yahoo.com

Thanks

Michael Hass

faith b
faith b

From what we can piece together my friend and I passed the finish line shortly after Peter did. My friend who is an EMT up in Petaluma, immediately reacted when she saw Peter down and jumped in an performed CPR and compressions for 20 minutes at the least. We crossed at gun time 2:06 and he crossed around 2:00. She was not relieved by ambulance until about 2:30. Someone there giving assistance actually timed the event. Kaiser and the Race Organizers should be held responsible. There should have been a medical tent immediately upon finishing the event and emergency staff on hand. Everyone who was working on Peter to save his life had a BIB on. All racers. As I watched, them work on Peter a girl vomitted right in front of me. There were plenty of other sick people who came across that finish line and there was NO medical assistance readily available. I am outraged at RhodyCo's response today. How dare they..... We can't let this incident pass without repercussion. Peter may or may have not been saved, but the time it took to get medical attention was abhorrent and demonstrates deep negligence on the part of Kaiser and RhodyCo to put on an event of this distance and size. SHAME ON THEM!

scott
scott

Hi Faith,Please email me at svelder@gmail.com... Thank You! my name is Scott and im a close friend of Peters Best, Scott

Scott
Scott

Hi Faith, Im a close friend of Peters and I would greatly appreciate your help on something since your friend did some CPR and witnessed this. His wife is in need of people who witnessed the situation around people doing CPR and etc. etc. could you please if you are ok with this email peter's brother inlaw his name is Erik Gonzalez at erickgonzalez13@gmail.com with any bit of information you can. Thank you for your time and efforts. Best, Scott my email is svelder@gmail.com if you need to contact myself also..

Cmalejos
Cmalejos

Shame on the event organizers. Shame on the SF fire and Ambulance for walking to the scene. I watched as they pulled up taking there sweet time. I'm angry that a the runner didn't have a fighting chance. This event was poorly staffed. I've ran in dozens of marathon and it was clear that RhodyCo had there head up there ass.

Alicia
Alicia

I crossed the finish line next to Peter. I was in the gate next to his. It was at about 1 hour 58 minutes. He collapsed face first to the ground. Immediately several runners came to his side, not a race official in site. The three men who were all runners braced him and flipped him over to protect his head, back and neck. We were all shouting for help, none of us had cell phones as we had just run a half marathon. Complete confusion from the announcer as he called for help with a runner 200 yards from the finish, called for help for Peter in the finish gates and called for help for antihero runner on the Great Highway around mile 10. No response. We watched three people collapse and we watched as only runners came to their aid. Finally people found phones and frantic calls for help followed. It was my sister who started vomiting from the heat that you likely saw so in an effort to help her and to not crowd to scene for Peter I removed myself. I walked my sister about 250 yards looking for a post race medic tent, nothing! Nothing marked at least. Not even a place to get a band aide. We continued to hope help would come to Peter and finally the medic truck backed in. That was at very least 20 minutes after he collapsed. I realize Kaiser was the sponsor but when a health care provider puts their name on something like this they should also have their people present to assist along the course. I saw not one medic on foot, bike or other for 13 miles. My heart is broken for this man's family. This is a crushing tragedy riddled with negligence.

Michael
Michael

Hello Alicia, My name is Michael Hass, am Peter Hass's brother. We are still trying to make sense of all of this. Peter was a healthy young man. can you please contact me and share with me what you saw near the finish line on Sunday. thank you mhasscivil@yahoo.com

Amber AS
Amber AS

Michael - You should post this to the Facebook page. Lots of runners there discussing this. Because of where you brother collapsed, thousands of ppl were witness to at least parts of this tragedy. For a time, every single runner who finished had to go past him and his helpers in the finishing line shoots. My very first thoughts went to his family, knowing he was someone's son, brother, husband or father. My condolences to you and your family. Many of us are sharing your pain, please know that.

fufugirl
fufugirl

From SFGATE (Dave Rhody)said it is "entirely not true" that qualified medical personnel were not already in place at the race. "Understandably, a lot of remarks get embellished and close to hysterical,"This is insulting to the bystanders who witnessed Mr. Hass laying at the finish line. I had noticed him 30 seconds after his collapse, was told to keep moving by a volunteer. He had blood on his head and face (probably from hitting his head on the pavement) and looked semi conscious to me, definitely not in good shape. I saw other runners trying to assist him. I assumed medical help was on it's way. 20 minutes later (I know because I have the time on my phone), I received a text from my friend who had just crossed the line saying people were giving CPR on a runner. This turned out to be the same runner. Then, just a minute or so later, I noticed the ambulance trying to come down MLK. Drive. I STILL couldn't believe it was for the same guy. I assumed he was already taken care of. But sadly I was wrong. If this were me or a loved one, I would be very upset at this kind of delay and I think Rhodyco needs to man up to their responsibility here! Yes, running has it's risks but that's not an excuse to not have an ambulance at the Finish Line where most of these types of collapses occur.

Mhasscivil
Mhasscivil

Hello fufugirl, I am Peter Hass's brother can you please contact me and tell me what you saw at the half marathon on sunday. No family members or close friends were at this event with my little brother when he died. We just do not understand how this horrible thing happened. Please contact me. mhasscivil@yahoo.com

Thanks

Michael Hass

scott
scott

Hi Fufugirl, Im a close friend of Peters and I would greatly appreciate your help on something since you witnessed this. His wife is in need of people who witnessed the situation around people doing CPR and etc. etc. could you please if you are ok with this email peter's brother inlaw his name is Erik Gonzalez at erickgonzalez13@gmail.com with any bit of information you can. Thank you for your time and efforts. Best, Scott my email is svelder@gmail.com if you need to contact myself also..

ranchorunner
ranchorunner

I saw Mr. Hass down as well. I came in about 7 mins. after him and saw another person doing chest compressions. I said a prayer for him and kept moving as instructed. I collected my gear and made my way back to the Great Highway only to see the ambulance heading up towards the finish line. I had the same thought as you. I also realized that at least 25 mins. had elapsed since I saw him on the ground and could only hope for the best. There will be a lot of fallout for this.

Mhasscivil
Mhasscivil

Hello ranchorunner, I am Peter Hass's brother can you please contact me and tell me what you saw at the half marathon on Sunday. No family members or close friends were at this event with my little brother when he died. We just do not understand how this horrible thing happened. Please contact me. Thank you. mhasscivil@yahoo.com

Thanks

Michael Hass

afriend
afriend

Hello Micheal,I am so sorry for your loss, this is truely a tradgedy. I have seen you commenting and asking for help and wanted to extend to you my condolences and also to suggest that you go onto facebook and check out the page for the marathon, there are many people who were in the race that have been commenting as to what happened and it might help you in your families quest for some answers. All of you are in my thoughts and prayers and I certainly hope that you are able to get some answers. Pete was an amazing person who touched the lives of so many people with his kindness and huge heart, his death is an unbelievably tragedy. I hope that you are able to find some answers and to gather enough information to help to keep this from happening to another person. In addition I hope that you go after the parties responsible for there not being adequate medical attention. There are so many people who's lives will never be the same after this horrible incident and I hope you all are able to find some peace.

Sb
Sb

"Kaiser Permanente is a promotional sponsor of the San Francisco half marathon, which does not include operations, management, or staffing the medical response."

What a perfect Kaiser response.

Llama_let
Llama_let

I am so upset this man passed. I was there and ran this race,my husband was there and saw cpr being administered to peter. There should have been medical support. I have run 3 half marathons in the last 4 months. This was the first race that did not have paramedics lined up and down the road. I am so sorry for his wife and his children. They are in my thoughts and prayers.

scott
scott

Hi Llama, Im a close friend of Peters and I would greatly appreciate your help on something since you witnessed this. His wife is in need of people who witnessed the situation around people doing CPR and etc. etc. could you please if you are ok with this email peter's brother inlaw his name is Erik Gonzalez at erickgonzalez13@gmail.com with any bit of information you can. Thank you for your time and efforts. Best, Scott my email is svelder@gmail.com if you need to contact myself also..

Betty
Betty

I have to disagree with DANIELLEDOLCE. Being the MAIN SPONSOR of an event, only mean that the organization is donating an amount of money to the success of the event. It is the responsibility of the Organizers to coordinate an emergency & medical response team PLUS anything that pertain to the overall need of the event.

BG
BG

There is no excuse. Rhody and Kaiser are responsible for this. They are responsible for having emergency personnel at the end of a race that is a half marathon. I was not there but as a marathon runner over the past 20 years I am deeply saddened to hear whar happened. This is a catastrophe in the making when business such as Rhody start managing long distance runs for profit and cut back on essentials such as medical personnel and electrolytes on the course. My prayers go out to his family.

Guest
Guest

I work with Sponsors on a daily basis and the sponsor (especially a presenting sponsor) has a say in what happens!!!!! I was there.... saw the whole thing from when he went down NO EXCUSES for Kaiser!

Bvsmart
Bvsmart

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/...

This is insane. Now I'm really pissed. I cannot believe this race promoter would actually say that WE (the crowd) were hysterical. I was there there the whole friggin time Mr. Rhody. I watched with my own eyes and HEARD what was going on. There was NOT a proper medical response for Mr. Hass. You can spin it in the newspaper anyway you like but you're only being disrespectful to Mr. Hass's family. I'd suggest hiring a good lawyer. You're going to need it.

MJ
MJ

SHAME on you Kaiser...SHAME on YOU!!!!

Jenn
Jenn

Uh, hi, did you not read the article? Kaiser funded it, they didn't organize the details.

guest
guest

I was at the race. It was really hot. I slowed down at 8 miles and walkedfor some time just to get away from exhaustion. Also, there were only two electrolytestations between 8-13 miles. There were water stations, but I guess few moreelectrolyte stations would have helped.

Cableguyy56
Cableguyy56

Pete was one of the most amazing people; I've ever met. He would always tackle life with a smile and a fight and give the shirt of his back! But he'd tell a joke to make you smile to get it.. Miss you. Rw

D Runner
D Runner

I believe I ran past Peter during the last few hundered yards of the race and saw that he was in very bad shape. Only volunteers and possibly runners helping him from what I saw. There was also a woman down between mile 9 and 10 that lay on the concrete for at least 10 minutes with no medical assistance. Eventually saw EMTs walking down the frontage path to assist...but in no big hurry. Sadly unorganized medical support.

scott
scott

Hi D Runner, Im a close friend of Peters and I would greatly appreciate your help on something since you witnessed this. His wife is in need of people who witnessed the situation around people doing CPR and etc. etc. could you please if you are ok with this email peter's brother inlaw his name is Erik Gonzalez at erickgonzalez13@gmail.com with any bit of information you can. Thank you for your time and efforts. Best, Scott my email is svelder@gmail.com if you need to contact myself also..

Jj
Jj

Peter was a good man. He has a two year old and his wife is 7 months pregnant. There is many human faces in this tragedy. Eden, you and you children are in our prayers.

Liasoul
Liasoul

I ran that race too. My heart goes out to the family.... I am really sorry.....

Danielledolce
Danielledolce

I was there. This man could have lived had there been basic, medical equipment available. Kaiser should have known better being the MAIN SPONSER. Shame on them. It doesn't matter if they don't organize the event. I hope they get their butts kicked in court.

Gamazek
Gamazek

How about you try and save the mans life. I was a runner to and saw many other patients needing help. If they saved him, someone else would have taken his place. Are you even smart enough to be a doctor yourself? You sound like some dumb low life that doesn't know anything.

Mikan_man
Mikan_man

If they have enough resources and man power on medical backup, I believe no one would ne left behind... Even if they tried to help pete out first, the others would also get medical attention... So the problem is they are lack of medical helpers

windmill
windmill

No, you dont know that he would have lived. Young athletes have died in many sports from unknown genetic conditions DEPSITE having immediate AED/CPR performed. Shame on you for casting blame on anyone without even knowing what killed this man, or knowing the full facts.

Brett
Brett

She said "could" have lived. Many people pass away in races due to unforeseen circumstances, but this man was not given a chance to survive due to lack of resources. As a runner, I fear the day this may be me on the ground. I can only pray there are trained personnel nearby that could help in this same situation.

Svelder
Svelder

Hi! Danielledolce,

Im a close friend of Peters and I would greatly appreciate your help on something since you witnessed this. His wife is in need of people who witnessed the situation around people doing CPR and etc. etc. could you please if you are ok with this email peter's brother inlaw his name is Erik Gonzalez at erickgonzalez13@gmail.com with any bit of information you can. Thank you for your time and efforts. Best, Scott my email is svelder@gmail.com if you need to contact myself also..

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