‘It’s just crushing ... to know that she must have been struggling’ — vigil planned in California for doctor killed in Sugar House domestic violence slaying

(Photo courtesy University of Utah School of Medicine) Sarah Hawley

Friends, classmates and professors at the University of California-San Francisco are “devastated” by the loss of medical school graduate Sarah Hawley — shot to death Sunday in Sugar House by her boyfriend, who then turned the gun on himself.

Faculty members will gather Tuesday morning to remember Hawley, who began a residency at the University of Utah last year after her graduation from medical school in California. A vigil is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the School of Medicine in San Francisco.

“We feel the need to come together and help each other grieve through this,” said Catherine Lucey, vice dean of education at the UC-San Francisco’s School of Medicine. “There’s no making sense of it. We can’t help each other understand. It’s really all about helping support each other and trying to figure out how we can move ahead and honor Sarah.”

The University of Utah has not commented on any possible events in Salt Lake City. Hawley was a doctor in the family medicine residency program at the University of Utah’s School of Medicine.

Hawley, 27, and Travis Geddes, 30, were found shot to death in their home, near 1800 E. Ramona Ave., on Sunday after a neighbor reported a disturbance, including some yelling from the couple, about 8 p.m., Salt Lake City police said. Geddes apparently shot Hawley and then killed himself, said Sgt. Brandon Shearer of the SLCPD.

“It appears to be a domestic-related murder-suicide,” Shearer said. According to Hawley’s Facebook page, she and Geddes had been in a relationship since at least 2014.

U. spokesman Chris Nelson told The Tribune that Hawley hadn’t reported any domestic violence issues or concerns to university police or to her residency supervisor.

Lucey said Hawley will be remembered as an “extraordinarily engaged and competent and empathic person” at UC-SF.

“She really stood out for her commitment to taking care of patients from the time they were born until the time they died,” Lucey said. “And she was so excited about going to Utah. She thought the program there was exactly the type of family medicine program that was going to launch her career to help her be the type of doctor she really wanted to be.

She said Hawley had “an easygoing way about her” and that she “instantly connected with everyone regardless of where they came from or who they know or what they were there for. And that was true not only for her patients but for her friends.”

Hawley “was a relationship person," Lucey said. "She knew the power of developing strong relationships that helped people through difficult times, and it’s just crushing to us to know that she must have been struggling with some challenges herself in the relationship that she was in.”

Lucey said she was not aware of any problems in Hawley’s relationship, and she had not spoken to anyone who was. According to Salt Lake City police, officers had not been called to the home Hawley and Geddes shared.

“You don’t know what people are struggling with in their day-to-day lives, and all we can say is that we hope that someday, somehow we can actually develop a system in society where people with intense anger can get help, rather than turning it on someone they love,” Lucey said.

“Regardless of whether this was a one-time thing or a longtime thing, this is really toxic anger that led to the loss of this really remarkable woman from our lives,” she said.

Victims of domestic violence can find help by calling the Utah Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-897-LINK.

Kolawole Okuyemi, Hawley’s department chairman, said in a news statement that Hawley came to Utah “to continue her passion of providing care to women and children in underserved communities. Her adventurous spirit and love of learning will be missed by all those who knew her.”

According to her biography on the University of Utah’s School of Medicine website, Hawley “fell in love” with the U. “when she realized that the program combined excellent training opportunities in maternal and child healthcare with a set of faculty and residents who are as excited about learning and living in the beautiful mountains of Salt Lake City as she is.”

As she entered the residency program, her interests included family practice, reproductive health, obstetrics, pediatrics and rural and wilderness medicine.

“Dr. Hawley always did a great job of connecting with her patients and understanding where they were coming from,” said Michael Good, Dean of the U.'s School of Medicine, in the statement. “She treated the whole person, and patients were always appreciative of her approach.”

Hawley “was constantly talking about” her family in California “and always mentioning her love of family,” Brian Vukelic, her residency advisor, said in the statement from the U. But she also immersed herself in Utah’s outdoor sports, Vukelic said. According to her online biography, her hobbies included camping, backpacking, white-water rafting, and bird and tree identification, as well as cooking and swimming.

“She always gave everything her all,” Vukelic said.