Inland Empire

Nurse on Front Line of Pandemic Killed in Freak Hit-and-Run When Stolen SUV Detaches From Truck

Kathleen Hydrusko was heading home to Temecula when an SUV that was being towed by a truck detached, CHP investigators said.

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Family members are mourning a Southern California nurse killed in a freak accident earlier this month as she was returning to her Temecula home.

On Feb. 4, Kathleen Hydrusko was driving on Cactus Valley Road when a stolen SUV that was being towed by a truck detached, sending the SUV directly into the path of Kathleen's vehicle, CHP investigators said.

The crash killed her and the driver who was towing the SUV kept going.

Grace Hydrusko calls her daughter an angel on Earth because she would always answer the call if anyone needed help.

"She was always happy, always smiling no matter what," she said. "She was a joy to be around. She embraced helping others. It was just passion."

So to her family it was only natural that Kathleen would pursue a career as a registered nurse because she loved to make others feel better.

Diane O'Connor, her sister, said it wasn't only at the hospital but for healthcare patients that she did home infusion for the care for their mom.

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Family members say Kathleen started working at Hemet Global Medical Center as an emergency room nurse two weeks before the pandemic. And despite the incredible challenges of the past two years the 63-year-old frontline hero showed amazing strength both physically and emotionally.

"She was very respectful of other people in the hospital but she would always ask them, 'Can I pray with you?'" O'Connor said. "She would just come home and be completely exhausted."

"She was such a good person. She did not deserve this," her sister said.

CHP investigators are still trying to identify the driver of the pickup truck involved in the crash.

They say they don't have any surveillance video and the SUV that was being towed was stolen.

"And that person who took her life, took that away from our family, took that away from all the other thousands of people she was going to help before she retired," said Stephanie O'Connor, the victim's niece.

Family members are hoping someone will come forward with information about the driver and call the CHP.

"The police that saw her in the vehicle knew her, from the ER," her mother said. "They couldn't believe it either."

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