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Crime scene investigator dies while investigating Hughson crime scene
HUGHSON - A Stanislaus County Sheriff's crime scene investigator who was investigating the scene of a drive-by shooting was struck and killed by a motorist Friday morning on Santa Fe Avenue just south of Whitmore Avenue.

Mary Donahou, 46, of Ceres, a nine-year employee of the department, died a short time after sustaining injuries at 6:40 a.m. as she was struck by the southbound 2000 Suzuki Grand Vitara. The driver of the Suzuki, Elizabeth Quiroga, 38, of Hughson, who was on her way to her job as a Turlock Police Department dispatcher, promptly made a U-turn to checked on Donahou.

"This is a tragedy for her family, the Sheriff's Department and community," said Sheriff Adam Christianson. "It's not very often that we lose a family member here at the Sheriff's Department in the line of duty. It's a tragedy when it happens and In this case it's simply a tragic accident."

Members of the California Highway Patrol's Major Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) from Fresno were dispatched to a closed-down residential section of Santa Fe just south of Charles Street where earlier in the day someone fired shots. Donahou and a deputy were on the scene investigating the shooting at the time of the tragic collision.

Donahou had parked her Sheriff's vehicle on the west shoulder of southbound Santa Fe and was standing in the road when she was struck. Investigators were trying to piece together why Quiroga and deputy failed to clear each other's path but there was little daylight at that hour. Donahou may have been walking across the road to the home where the shooting was reported or taking photos or collecting shell casings in the road.

The driver's side headlight was broken and front quarter panel dented, indicating that Donahou was somewhere the center of the Santa Fe Avenue at the time of impact.

Turlock Police Capt. Carl Nielsen said the female dispatcher was on her way to work when the accident occurred. A police chaplain had been called in to offer her counseling.

The death shook up the Sheriff's Department where Sheriff Adam Christianson gathered with officials for a press conference at 10:30 a.m. He said Donahou was well loved and well respected by many.

"Mary loved her job," said Christianson. "She loved serving the community and the community loved her as well. Her personnel file is filled with commendations from peer supervisors and citizens and her passion and commitment to service, to providing forensic services to the deputy sheriffs on our staff is recognized. But at the same time we are going to miss her."

Donahou leaves behind a 12-year-old son, Jake, her parents and sister, all whom live in the Modesto-Ceres area.

The accident did not appear to be a criminal act nor involve alcohol or drugs, said Christianson.