DENVER (CBS4) – The family of a nurse who cared for victims in July’s mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater is mourning her loss.
Jennifer Gallagher, 46, died while on a vacation in the northwestern part of Iowa. Her husband says she drowned while swimming with friends in Lake Okoboji.
Gallagher cared for some of the most critically injured patients after the mass shooting in the neurosurgical intensive care unit at University of Colorado Hospital. She was on duty in the ICU the day after the shooting.
“She did bring home a lot of the tragedy and talked about it,” said Greg Pinson, her husband.
Pinson says his wife was particularly touched by one patient’s story. Caleb Medley was shot in the eye by the gunman and has been in critical condition ever since. His wife — who was also in the theater on July 20 when the shooting happened — was due to give birth a few days later. She decided to have the baby at University of Colorado Hospital to be close to Medley. The baby, Hugo, was born on July 24.
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“She was very affected by that, the fact that his life was so dramatically altered and a newborn baby arriving almost at the exact same time,” Pinson said.
Gallagher was also there when President Barack Obama came to the hospital to comfort families and thank the staff on July 22.
“I think that was very special to her to be there when he was there, to get to meet him, you know, she was very proud of that,” Pinson said.
Pinson and Gallagher got married seven years ago and have a five-year-old son. Pinson says she loved being a nurse.
“She had a great capacity for empathy and a great capacity to make the patients and family members feel better,” he told CBS4.
Pinson says it is his wife’s smile he wants people to remember most.
“You know, everywhere she went she left people smiling and laughing, be it at work or home, or wherever she was.”
Gallagher was involved in Denver’s Irish community and played on a ladies football team called the Denver Gaels. On the team website she is remembered as someone who always put others above herself.