Stand­ing ova­tion for trooper’s fam­ily

O∞cer is re­mem­bered as a lov­ing fa­ther who saved lives

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jesse Paul

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

wife.

“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

Andy Col­well, Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post

Mem­bers of the Lord fam­ily of Lit­tle­ton ob­serve the funeral pro­ces­sion for Don­ahue on East Ham­p­den Av­enue in En­gle­wood on Fri­day.

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