Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post photojournalist Michel du Cille died Thursday of an apparent heart attack, the paper announced.
The acclaimed 58-year-old photojournalist collapsed after a hike while on assignment in Liberia, where he was documenting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. He was taken unconscious to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
In a note to The Washington Post newsroom, executive editor Martin Baron said he was "heartbroken," adding, "We have lost a beloved colleague and one of the world’s most accomplished photographers."
"Michel died at 58 doing the work he loved. He was completely devoted to the story of Ebola, and he was determined to stay on the story despite its risks. That is the sort of courage and passion he displayed throughout his career," the note from Baron said.
Du Cille won three Pulitzer Prizes for photography: two with the Miami Herald in 1986 and 1988, the other with the Post in 2008, for an investigative series on the treatment of military veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. After being appointed as the Post's director of photography in 2007, du Cille returned to shooting photos from the field in 2012. His work had involved covering stories of conflict and human resilience, including war in Afghanistan.
Du Cille's recent work had focused on the devastating effects of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, producing compelling and jarring reports of the virus' toll. In a recent report, du Cille wrote of the challenges of covering the Ebola crisis, but added, "I believe that the world must see the horrible and dehumanizing effects of Ebola. The story must be told." Du Cille told Poynter that he had volunteered for the Ebola assignment.
Just days before his death, The Post ran a captivating documentation of Ebola in Liberia by du Cille.
Du Cille is survived by his wife, Washington Post photojournalist Nikki Kahn.
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) December 12, 2014
Below are the official statements from Frederick J. Ryan, Jr. and Martin Baron:
“All of us here at The Post are devastated by the news of Michel’s death. He was a cherished colleague and one of the world’s most revered photojournalists. Michel was completely devoted to the story of Ebola, and he was determined to stay on the story despite huge personal risks. That is the sort of courage and passion he displayed throughout his career. The loss to our newsroom and to our profession is incalculable.” - Martin Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post
“Only a day before his death, we exhibited Michel’s stunning Ebola photographs before an all-employee meeting at The Post. Once again, Michel had been witness to history and to human struggle and, as always, his photographs constituted storytelling of uncommon power. To learn now that we have lost this beloved colleague and exceptional journalist is absolutely heartbreaking.” - Frederick J. Ryan Jr., publisher of The Washington Post