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San Diego Man’s Freeway Death Was an Accident, Not Suicide, Officials Say


Donald Truesdail, a 34-year-old music teacher, who was struck and killed in a January 13, 2009 San Diego freeway accident, did not commit suicide, the San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office said. According to this news report in the San Diego Union-Tribune, officials initially believed that Truesdail had intended to kill himself. Truesdail was struck by a truck traveling south on Interstate 5 near 28th Street in Barrio Logan.

But family members objected to the official preliminary determination saying that Truesdail was walking on the freeway because his car had been hit by another vehicle before the accident that killed him. A Medical Examiner’s Office investigator later confirmed that an earlier accident had occurred, supporting the family’s assertion that he was on foot to get help. The second investigation into how the fatal San Diego accident occurred proceeded only after family and friends pressed officials. Truesdail was a beloved music teacher who taught choral and instrumental music in San Diego and El Cajon schools.

My heart goes out to the family, friends and students of Donald Truesdail, who must have been through an emotional rollercoaster after his death. It is not easy grieving for a loved one and not having that closure about the way in which they died. Hopefully, the Medical Examiner’s final determination will help them find that closure.

This story also offers more proof that initial or preliminary investigation results may not be accurate. As the investigation progresses the facts may evolve or different details including new eyewitness accounts could come to light changing the complexion and direction of the case. I commend Truesdail’s family and friends for refusing to accept the initial findings and having the courage and conviction to question official findings. And it turned out they were right!

This is also why auto accident victims and their families would be well-advised to consult with an experienced auto accident attorney, who has the resources to thoroughly examine the facts of a case. A reputed personal injury law firm will have its own accident reconstruction experts and investigators to delve into the details and arrive at the truth. Law enforcement agencies, very often, do not have the time or the resources to conduct a thorough investigation or even make traffic accident cases a high priority.

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