Standing ovation for trooper’s family
O∞cer is remembered as a loving father who saved lives
englewood» As hundreds of officers from across Colorado somberly gathered Friday morning to remember fallen state Trooper Cody Donahue, his sister stood before them in a chapel and asked instead for joy.
Erin Donahue-Paynter wanted her brother’s widow and two young daughters to know how much they are supported.
“I want them to feel this room of love right now,” she said, prompting a standing roar of applause, whistles and yelps that lasted for more than a minute.
Donahue, who was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer Nov. 25, was laid to rest Friday after a service that highlighted how he brought happiness and protection to those around him. As his colleagues and family struggled through tearful memories at Denver First Church of the Nazarene, Donahue’s commitment to his job at the Colorado State Patrol shined through.
“He felt his calling to serve his community and state,” said Roger Freels, a State Patrol chaplain. “He served with dignity and honor.”
Donahue’s casket, covered with an American flag, was flanked by troopers standing guard, their heads bowed during the entire service while his loved ones and colleagues took to a lectern to recall a big, goofy man with a booming voice who lived by a strict moral code.
He once even issued a traffic ticket to his
“This man was an entertainer,” said Capt. Jeff Goodwin, his supervisor at the State Patrol’s office in Castle Rock. “We all loved Cody.”
Col. Scott Hernandez, who leads the force, said: “I can tell you without a doubt, Trooper Donahue saved lives.”
“As chief of a large police agency, when things like this happen, people expect you to know what to say,” Hernandez said. “I don’t.”
Donahue was hit by the tractor-trailer in the northbound lanes of Interstate 25 near Castle Rock. He was outside his patrol car and investigating a crash when authorities say the truck’s driver, Noe Gamez-Ruiz, drifted over a solid white fog line and slammed into him.
Gamez-Ruiz apparently had room to change lanes and move over to distance himself — per state law — from where Donahue was working.
Gamez-Ruiz, 41, has been charged with careless driving resulting in death, a Class 1 misdemeanor, and failure to yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle in the crash. Investigators reviewed video from Gamez-Ruiz’s truck as part of their probe of the collision, which showed the impact and led to the charges.
Donahue was with a second trooper — Matthew Normandin — when the fatal collision happened near the interstate’s Tomah Road exit. Both troopers’ vehicles were parked on the side of the interstate with their emergency lights activated.
Donahue, an 11-year veteran of the State Patrol, worked at several State Patrol posts before he was killed, including in Fairplay, Golden and the force’s executive service unit in Denver.
Hundreds of police vehicles traveled in a procession to the memorial service, creating a long line of flashing lights that led and followed the hearse carrying Donahue.
“He was clumsy. He was stubborn,” said Trooper Jeff Gowin, a close friend of Donahue’s. “He was the first one to laugh at and criticize himself.”
After Gowin’s father died, Donahue drove Gowin’s wife five hours through a snowstorm so that she could attend the funeral.
Gowin also talked about Donahue’s lighter side, including how Donahue claimed he was allergic to marijuana.
“He was kind of like our own personal drug dog,” Gowin joked.
Donahue was the third state trooper to be fatally hit by a vehicle in the line of duty during the past 18 months. He lived in Parker and is survived by his wife, Velma, and two daughters, 10-year-old Leila and 7-year-old Maya.
One of the three troopers killed was Jaimie Jursevics, whose funeral was Nov. 23, 2015, also at Denver First Church of the Nazarene.
Donahue’s family made their first public comments since his death.
“Cody was the rock of our family,” the family said in a statement. “He was always there to make us smile, lend a hand, give a hug. Our hearts are forever broken.”
The statement went on to say: “We do want to take this opportunity to ask all who have been touched by this tragedy, please don’t drive carelessly. If you see emergency personnel on the side of the road, please slow down and move over. Two little girls are going to grow up without their Daddy, and there’s just no good reason.”
Mourners stand and applaud the family of Colorado State Patrol Trooper Cody Donahue during his funeral Friday at Denver First Church of the Nazarene. Donahue was killed Nov. 25 on Interstate 25 during an accident investigation. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post
Cody Donahue, 34, was an 11-year veteran of the State Patrol.
Cody Donahue’s wife and two daughters listen as friends talk about the Colorado State Patrol trooper, who was killed Nov. 25 on Interstate 25 near Castle Rock during an accident investigation. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post
Members of the Lord family of Littleton observe the funeral procession for Donahue on East Hampden Avenue in Englewood on Friday.