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Woman killed in wrong-way crash remembered as vibrant soul

By Pat Reavy, KSL.com | Updated - Apr. 22, 2021 at 10:50 p.m. | Posted - Apr. 22, 2021 at 2:46 p.m.



MURRAY — A woman killed by a wrong-way driver on I-15 is being remembered by friends and family as a spirited young lady.

A vigil in Gwendolyn Doner's honor was held on Thursday at Murray Park near IMC hospital where she was treated.

Her boyfriend Tyler Shoemaker, who was in the car with her at the time of the crash, remembered the love she had shown him.

"From the very beginning I was shown what like real love is from someone — unconditional," said Shoemaker. "I will continue to show the love she's taught me."

Her father Brett Doner carried on Shoemaker's sentiment, recalling the last thing his daughter told him was "I love you, Daddy." Her father continued, "She was the best thing to happen in my life, the best thing to happen in a lot of our lives."

About 8:45 p.m. Monday, during what was supposed to be a fun night out, the Ford Taurus being driven by Doner, 19, was hit by a wrong-way driver on the interchange from I-215 to southbound I-15 in Murray.

Doner died at a local hospital about 2:40 a.m. Wednesday from her injuries, according to the Utah Highway Patrol.

Doner's father said at the vigil that she was an organ donor.

"Gwen has passed but she will give life to others," said Brett Doner.

Formal charges were pending Thursday against the man accused of hitting Doner's Taurus and one other vehicle. Justin Wayne Robertson, 35, of Cottonwood Heights, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail before her death for investigation of DUI causing serious injury and other potential charges.

"What was supposed to be a night out at dinner turned into her battle to overcome trauma sustained by a senseless criminal," according to a message on a GoFundMe campaign* started to help Doner's family.

"At 19 Gwen had her entire life in front of her. She was enrolled in a massage and holistic program. Gwen's greatest strength was helping and caring for others. Gwen's final gift was to donate her organs to others. Gwen's most beautiful trait was always willing to make sure the unseen were seen and those who couldn't find their voice were heard. She leaves behind a devastated family and friends who continue to try and make sense of all of this."

In a Facebook post, Talea Doner wrote about how Gwen grew up in a small Montana town.

"This week our hearts are broken as she was unnecessarily taken from us all too soon. She leaves a void that can never be filled. My heart is absolutely shattered. ... We are all just still in shock."

Related

Gwen Doner's Facebook page has a picture of her standing in front of the Healing Mountain Massage School in Salt Lake City with the caption "Back to School." The picture was posted April 3.

Shoemaker posted on Facebook, "How I will miss you so much. You have been nothing but a blessing the moment you walked into my life. ... Why such a beautiful (soul) was taken away so soon I will never understand. You have left such a huge imprint on this world in only 19 years."

"At only 19-years-old, Gwen was far too young to leave this earth. She was a light to those around her and she improved the lives of all those who crossed her path. Gwen and (her boyfriend) had just begun attending school for massage therapy and holistic healing because of their passion for helping others. Gwen cared deeply for others, sought positivity, and acted with kindness and sincerity. She will be greatly missed," another woman wrote on Facebook.

"My heart is truly broken! It's truly unfair that you were taken from us. You're one amazing woman!" another woman posted.

On Monday, Robertson — who police say had just used methamphetamine — allegedly rammed a Unified police patrol car parked at the department's Cottonwood Heights substation, 7840 S. 2700 East. The patrol car was not occupied at the time.

Police began chasing Robertson after the collision, but stopped their pursuit when he got onto I-215 at 6200 South going the wrong way, according to a police affidavit.

In addition to hitting Doner's vehicle head-on, police say a second car — a Jeep Cherokee that was behind the Taurus — also struck Robertson's car head-on. After that collision, Robertson got out of his car and ran, but only made it about 100 yards before being captured, the Utah Highway Patrol said.

Contributing: Ashley Moser, KSLTV; Ashley Fredde, KSL.com


*Disclaimer: KSL.com has not verified the accuracy of the information provided with respect to the account nor does KSL.com assure that the monies deposited will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit or donation you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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