Dec 28, 2010 8:15 PM by Stephanie Collins

Popular Cripple Creek teacher dies after fire

A beloved woman, who taught for 40 years at Cresson Elementary in Cripple Creek, has died.

Officers say Mary Louise O'Donnell committed suicide by setting herself on fire. It happened Sunday, while she was visiting family in Illinois for the holidays.

Fire crews were called to a home in the Chicago suburb of Lake Villia for a basement fire. After putting out the flames, they found 63 year old O'Donnell alive, but severely burned. She was rushed to the hospital and died Monday.

O'Donnell retired from Cresson Elementary after the end of the last school year. She taught special ed, 6th grade and finished her career as a kindergarten teacher.

A close friend and co-worker tells News First 5 that O'Donnell was dealing with depression and had some medical problems; but it's still hard to believe that Mrs. O, as she was affectionately called, would take her own life, "Knowing Mary as the person she was, it just doesn't seem right that she would do something like this," says Gari Lu Schwab, a teacher at Cresson.

O'Donnell lived off of Highway 67 in Teller County.



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