Family Speaks Out After 19-Year-Old Killed In Wrong-Way Crash
Apr 22, 2021, 8:24 PM | Updated: 11:44 pm
MURRAY, Utah – The family of a young woman killed in a wrong-way crash has shed light on the 19-year-old’s legacy. In her death, they said, she will live on in others.
Gwen Doner dreamed of helping others. Thursday night, she gets to do that. Doctors are preparing for her to undergo organ donation surgery.
“She had so much life and light and energy,” said Brian Doner, Gwen’s uncle.
A year ago, Gwen Doner moved to Utah from Wyoming with big dreams of making the world a better place.
“Her entire future was ahead of her,” Brian Doner said.
The vibrant 19-year-old loved animals and people. She was studying massage therapy and wanted to be a holistic healer.
“Gwen was the voice for everybody who didn’t have a voice,” Brian Doner said.
That desire to help others placed Gwen, her boyfriend, and their dog, Blue, on the road Monday evening.
“They were giving the friend a ride,” Brian Doner said.
Around that time, troopers say 35-years-old Justin Robertson hit a UPD patrol car, then raced into oncoming traffic. He crossed paths with the couple on the I-15 (SB) and I-215 (EB) interchange, crashing into them and another car.
“There’s no sense, this doesn’t make sense, I mean you get to the hospital and you go through a pretty tough surgery,” he said.
Of four victims, Gwen was flown to the hospital. She had several broken bones in her arms and legs.
“We knew her recovery was going to be pretty tough because she had a lot of trauma to her body, but she was supposed to wake up,” Brian Donner said.
After surgery, Gwen’s health declined.
“She didn’t get blood or oxygen to her brain like she needed, and so about 3-6 that night we learned that all the plans for recovery weren’t going to matter,” he said.
Gwen wasn’t ready to give up. Her family said her organs are still healthy and her dreams of healing others will come true after all as she becomes an organ donor.
“What’s really important to know, that was Gwen’s choice, It was Gwen’s choice to give those organs,” Brian Doner said.
Gwen’s family has been by her side every step of the way. On Thursday night they held a vigil at Murray City Park, saying they want to be close to her as she undergoes surgery.
Dozens of people gathered to remember Gwen. They met to share stories, laugh, and cry. At one point the love of her life got up and spoke.
“From the very beginning I have been shown what real love is from someone unconditional,” said Tyler Shoemaker, Gwen’s boyfriend. “I felt so much care for her.”
He spoke few words, but his message was clear.
“I will continue to share the love that she has taught me,” he said.
That sentiment was echoed by family members during the vigil — including Gwen’s father.
“The last thing my daughter ever said to me was ‘I love you daddy,'” Brett Donner said.
He said his bright, young, charismatic daughter cared so deeply for everyone in her life.
“She was the best thing that ever happened to my life,” he said. “She was the best thing that ever happened to a lot of our lives”