UC Davis staff, family and friends are mourning the loss of a plant biologist who was killed Tuesday in Ethiopia when the car she was riding in was stoned by protesters.
Sharon Gray was in the East African nation to attend a meeting related to her research that looks at roots and how they respond to stress, university officials said.
It remains unclear under what circumstances Gray’s death happened, officials said.
Andy Fell, a university spokesman, confirmed Gray was killed when stones were hurled at her car on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa.
Ken Burtis, the university’s interim provost and executive vice chancellor, published a response to the tragic news.
“It is with great sadness that we write to tell you of the tragic death of one of our colleagues in Ethiopia. Sharon Gray, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Plant Biology, was killed while traveling in a car in the country. Sharon was there for a meeting to discuss the next steps on a project she was involved in with the Netherlands Institute of Ecology and other charitable organizations.
Many of the details of how this tragedy happened are still becoming clear. In the meantime, the U.S. State Department has stepped in to assist in returning Sharon home to her family. Another member of the plant biology department who was traveling with her is, thankfully, not physically injured and on her way home as well.On behalf of the entire UC Davis campus, our hearts and condolences go out to Sharon’s husband and extended family. Even in tragedy, we hope that we all can find some comfort in the wonderful work Sharon was engaged in that will better the lives of so many around the world.”
Crowds have attacked other vehicles since a stampede at a weekend protest killed at least 55 people, according to reports.
The protests have centered on land and political rights in Ethiopia. Another member of the plant biology department who was traveling with Gray was not injured and is headed home, officials said.
University officials said Gray, 31, was attending a meeting to discuss the next steps in a project she was involved in with the Netherlands Institute of Ecology and other charitable organizations.
She had been at UC Davis since 2013, Fell said. He said Gray’s husband is also a university employee.
The U.S. State Department is assisting in returning Gray’s body to her family.
The other UC Davis employee with Gray, an unidentified woman, was unharmed and is on her way back to the U.S.