Mille Lacs County doctor dies after hit-and-run

Mille Lacs County doctor dies after hit-and-run

Mille Lacs County doctor dies after hit-and-run

Employees of a Mille Lacs County health system are grieving after losing one of their own in a hit-and-run crash on Monday evening.

A report from the Minnesota State Patrol states that 56-year-old Cathy Ann Donovan, of Onamia, was walking along Highway 169 just before 5 p.m. in Kathio Township when a vehicle struck and killed her.

Mille Lacs Health System confirmed to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that Donovan was a family practice physician at its hospitals and clinics, and had been with the health system for 27 years.

Coworkers say she had just gone home to walk her dogs, something she did regularly, when she was hit. The Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office says one of the dogs died and the other survived.

No details about the striking vehicle were immediately provided but the sheriff’s office says the vehicle will likely have heavy front-end damage.

Anyone with information that could help investigators find the person responsible is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 320-983-8346 or Crime Stoppers of Minnesota at 1-800-222-8477.

Law enforcement officials were back out along Highway 169 on Tuesday, searching for clues.

“It’s a different experience, it really is,” Mille Lacs County Sheriff Kyle Burton said.

Burton called the case unique, noting that Donovan had been his doctor.

“When it’s someone you know, it hits a lot harder,” Burton said. “In this case, it hit really hard — an important part of the medical community.”

“We’re all in kind of shock right now — what’s the next step, how can we help?” Marilyn Phillips, one of Donovan’s coworkers, said.

“She had a very calm, matter-of-fact, diligent, thorough way with people, very friendly,” Phillips added.

Word of Donovan’s death quickly made it around the small community.

“She was able to build strong bridges with a lot of people,” Phillips said. “Ironically, our switchboard has been flooded this morning with people saying, ‘Tell us, tell us, what happened to Dr. Donovan.”

That’s what investigators are now trying to figure out after another motorist reported the incident and stopped to help.

“My hope is for whoever was involved in this will come forward, or the guilt will eat them up and they will tell somebody else,” Burton said.

The sheriff also is holding out hope that someone will call in with a tip that can help bring the community closure.

“There’s no way they didn’t know they hit somebody,” Burton said. “That’s my opinion, I don’t see how that’s possible.”