A pair of UCR faculty and staff members passed away in the span of one week earlier this month. On Feb. 16, it was reported that Laura Abbot, an academic coordinator in biology, had died after a car accident. Six days later, it was revealed that UCR professor emeritus of plant pathology and microbiology, Dr. Donald Erwin, also passed away.
On the morning of Feb. 16, Abbott was driving a white pickup truck towing a trailer on I-10 when she lost control of the vehicle, causing it to overturn, killing her onsite. No details have been provided about how or why she lost control.
A passenger riding alongside Abbott was not injured. According to the California Highway Patrol, the two were heading to the Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival.
According to UC Media Relations Director Kris Lovekin, the chair of the biology department informed his department about Abbott’s passing and are offering condolences to her family.
Just one week after Abbott’s death, it was also revealed that Dr. Erwin also passed away — his passing was unrelated to Abbott’s.
Dr. Erwin was hired at UCR shortly after the school’s inception. Shortly after earning his Ph.D. at UC Davis in 1953, Erwin joined UCR as a junior plant pathologist at the department of plant pathology. He became professor in 1966 and served as the department’s chair before retiring in 1991.
Colleague Dr. Olaf K. Ribeiro called Erwin “a very caring individual who was always concerned about his students and their welfare.”
Dr. Erwin’s funeral service will be held on March 7. According to a statement by Chancellor Kim Wilcox, Erwin’s family asks that donations be made to St. Catherine of Alexandria Church or to the UCR Botanic Garden in lieu of flowers.