CSI: Tony Esparza/CBS
Liane Bonin
January 31, 2002 AT 05:00 AM EST

What kind of crime scene rattles ”CSI” creator Anthony Zuiker? A real one. In early December, he and wife Jennifer stumbled upon hotel worker Gretchen Howard on a deserted highway near their Las Vegas home. The woman was unconscious at the wheel of her battered car. After calling 911, Zuiker noticed a spread of the victim’s ID cards next to the vehicle and surmised that Howard had been robbed and left for dead.

She is now recovering from internal injuries. There are no suspects. (Too bad William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger aren’t on the case.) So will the incident ever turn up on ”CSI”? ”It wouldn’t seem like the stakes were high enough,” Zuiker admits. ”But they’re way high when you’re there.”

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