DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – One year, ten days, three miles.
That is all that separates two Colorado State troopers killed in the line of duty and connects two families in tragedy.
Troopers Jaimie Jursevics and Cody Donahue lost their lives along I-25 and Colorado State Patrol honored their memories Saturday morning with a special roadside ceremony.
“We are here today to honor two beautiful families that have suffered a lot of tragedy in the last 20 months,” CSP Capt. Jeff Goodwin said.
Trooper Jursevics was killed in November 2015 by a drunk driver while assisting the investigation of an accident on I-25 near Castle Rock. A little more than a year later, Trooper Donahue was killed when a truck drifted into the shoulder where he was standing near his cruiser during an investigation. Near the spots where each trooper died are now new signs honoring their sacrifice. The troopers’ families, fellow law enforcement and emergency responders, as well as Colorado lawmakers attended the unveiling.
“Lives are being lost, people, and you have to stop,” CSP Chief Scott Hernandez said while looking directly into the media cameras. “You have to pay attention. It is serious. We’ve lost too many people on these highways.”
Trooper Donahue’s widow unveiled his memorial sign. Velma Donahue hopes it serves as a reminder of her late husband’s sacrifice.
“Lives were lost here,” she said. “These lives mean everything to somebody else, like my family. I hope when Cody’s name is seen by others that they’ll remember there was a wonderful man that gave his life to protect others.”
One of Trooper Donahue’s daughters sealed her dad’s memorial with a sticker reading “Move Over for Cody.” It’s the name of a new law that requires drivers to move over for emergency vehicles and includes increased fines and/or jail time for drivers who don’t, especially if they cause serious injury or death.
“The inconvenience of a minute for you to slow down or pay attention is nothing compared to the lives that were lost here and what that means to my children,” Velma told CBS4.
Among those attending Saturday’s ceremony were State Senator Chris Holbert and Representative Polly Lawrence. They urged Coloradans to save a life by moving over for law enforcement, first responders, or any driver who may be on the side of the road.
“Please move over and if you can’t move over for a stationary emergency vehicle along the road side, slow down,” Sen. Holbert said with tears. “Let’s make sure moms and dads get home to see their families.”
Trooper Jursevics’ memorial is located near mile marker 176 on southbound I-25. The memorial for Trooper Donahue is by mile marker 179.3 on northbound I-25.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team in 2012 as the morning reporter, covering national stories like the Aurora Theater Shooting and devastating Colorado wildfires. She now anchors CBS4 This Morning over the weekend and reports during the week. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @KellyCBS4.