Family on Tuesday remembered the pedestrian killed in a Sunday evening crash in Redmond as a gentle and kind man who struggled with mental illness but maintained his “resilient spirit” throughout his struggles.
Oregon State Police identified 34-year-old Paul David Donlan as the man struck by a truck while walking near U.S. Highway 97 on Sunday. Donlan was walking toward U.S. Highway 97 near Southeast Veterans Way when he darted out into the southbound lane, according to the Oregon State Police. Jason Johnson, 37, of Moxee, Wash., was driving a commercial semi-truck pulling two trailers southbound on the highway and tried to steer clear of Donlan, but hit him with the second trailer.
Donlan was pronounced dead at the scene.
His sister, Ann Donlan, said she wanted her brother to be remembered for more than just his struggles.
“Paul has battled with his mental illness for the past 15 years,” she wrote in an email. “When he was young and all through (Redmond High School), Paul was very popular and had so many friends. (He) was very charismatic, funny, spontaneous and charming. I’m still approached by so many of his old friends who reminisce about how much they love him and how they wish they could help him; he was so very loved. He was also a tremendously talented athlete, as some of his old coaches will also reminisce when I run into them from time to time.”
Ann Donlan said her brother loved to learn, and was particularly curious about nature and animals.
“He especially loved being outdoors. His favorite place was Smith (Rock),” she wrote. “He spent a great deal of time hiking and camping there. During the times that he did not feel well, Paul would go to Smith (Rock) and it would bring him solace.”
Donlan had several run-ins with the law during his life, and his sister said sometimes Donlan admitted to crimes he hadn’t committed because of his mental illness. Between 2000 and 2008, he was convicted of eight crimes ranging from felony theft and burglary to menacing and possession of a controlled substance.
And she said that in spite of his mental illness, Donlan never blamed others for his struggles and loved his family.
“We always remained a constant support for him,” Ann Donlan wrote, “especially our mother who fought so hard to get him services in an imperfect mental health system.”
Ann Donlan said she didn’t know why her brother was near the highway on Sunday evening. She said the family is certain he wasn’t trying to commit suicide.
“He got really confused,” she said. “He had a lot of auditory and visual hallucinations.”
But Ann Donlan said she knows one thing: “He was,” she said, “a loved, loved, loved person.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7831, firstname.lastname@example.org