David Oliver Relin, coauthor with Greg Mortenson of Three Cups of Tea, has died in Multnomah County, Oregon. Few details are available—Relin’s family has apparently asked that people close to Relin not discuss the situation with the media at this time—but a spokesman for the county medical examiner confirmed that Relin died on Thursday, November 15. There will be no autopsy, and the cause of death has not been made public.
Relin had been under public and legal scrutiny, along with Mortenson, since April 2011, when 60 Minutes and Jon Krakauer aired and published reports showing that Three Cups of Tea contained numerous fabrications. Relin was named in a civil suit brought by plaintiffs who argued that the book’s fabrications amounted to actionable fraud. That suit was thrown out of a federal district court in Montana last April but is currently under appeal.
Relin was at work on a much anticipated nonfiction book about the Himalayan Cataract Project, an effort to treat preventable blindness through affordable cataract surgery, carried out in harsh and remote areas of the world. Dr. Geoffrey Tabin, a cofounder of the project, could not be reached for comment.