Officer dies in line of duty
As the new semester rolls in, the UH community is coming together to mourn the loss of UHPD officer Ann O’Donnell.
O’Donnell’s death is especially heartbreaking for the police department because she was the first UH officer to die in the line of duty.
“We really feel her loss deeply because she was really somebody that, regardless of whether or not she made the arrest, wanted to help,” UHPD Lt. Bret Collier said. “She wanted to be the person to resolve the situation and help everyone involved. That’s something that you don’t find in every officer.”
O’Donnell, 24, was dispatched to a possible kidnapping in progress taking place at the Wendy’s restaurant on Scott Street, across from Robertson Stadium, around 1 a.m. on Dec. 24.
According to the Houston Police Department report, O’Donnell was headed westbound on North MacGregor Way when she struck a curb, lost control of her vehicle and slid sideways into a tree.
Houston police were called to the scene after a witness in his home heard the accident and called police.
“We were notified by HPD that she had gotten into a wreck at that location and was taken to the hospital,” Collier said.
O’Donnell passed away as she was being taken to Ben Taub Hospital.
She joined UHPD in September 2009. This was her first full-time job as a police officer.
Collier described O’Donnell as motivated and well-liked in the UH police department and the UH community.
“She loved being a police officer,” Collier said. “It was something she was really driven to.”
The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) at UH is honoring O’Donnell’s memory. A memorial table has been set up in room 279A of the University Center.
“We were so saddened to hear about her death, and we also felt sad that it happened during the break, that the University community really couldn’t be a part of honoring her and mourning her,” WRC Director Beverly McPhail said.
“So as a small token, we set up a memorial table here in the WRC that has a couple of pictures of her and a program from the service, just as a way to think of her and keep her memory for the wonderful service she gave to the University.”
McPhail worked with UHPD to put together the memorial. Since then, McPhail said UH officers have been coming in and visiting the memorial.
“The police officers are really touched. I think it touches them to see one of their own honored,” McPhail said. “They are very touched to see that we are not forgetting her and are keeping her memory alive.”
With students returning to campus, McPhail hopes that they will visit the center and honor O’Donnell for her services to the University.
“People have the opportunity to keep her in their hearts and minds,” she said.
The memorial will continue through the end of January. For more details, contact the Women’s Resource Center at 832-842-6191.