Union-Tribune Reports Death of OB Musician

by on January 15, 2009 · 11 comments

in Media, Ocean Beach, San Diego

SEE UPDATE AND PLANS FOR MEMORIAL HERE.

OCEAN BEACH, CA. This morning, the San Diego Union-Tribune ran a brief story of the death of an Ocean Beach musician and school teacher, Don Truesdail, who was killed by a truck on Interstate 5, the morning of Tuesday, January 13th.  Unfortunately, the paper reported that Truesdail, 34, had jumped in front of a truck, with the implication that he had committed suicide.

The only word that Truesdail had committed suicide was this:

Investigators said witnesses called 911 after seeing a man on the freeway shoulder jump in front of a truck. The driver, who pulled over after the accident, was not injured.

Ever since the story appeared on the U-T’s online version, comments have poured in from Don’s friends and family, outraged at the suggestion that he had killed himself.

The U-T did report that “Truesdail wrote folk-rock music, played the double bass and performed in local venues such as Portugalia on Newport Avenue.”  Truesdail was also a music teacher at Ralph Dailard Elementary School in the Lake Murray area, and Mar Vista Middle and High School in the South Bay. He lived in Ocean Beach with his wife, Nancy.

In her comment to the SignOnSanDiego article, Don’s sister wrote:

My entire family is shocked and disgusted at the spin of this article. There is other evidence that isn’t mentioned in the article, like that his car was clearly hit. Who hit his car? We don’t know. Who was the witness? The only “witness” that we know if is the person driving the truck that hit him. Why would he have gotten out of his car? We don’t know! I am disgusted that a newspaper, presumably trying to give the TRUTH of the story, would imply that someone committed suicide when that is clearly NOT the case. To the coroners office, my brother may have been merely “case number 09-00102”, but to his family who is shocked at the loss of a loving, beautiful, genius of a man, he was our “Donnie”. We do not want him remembered in print as a “pedestrian who jumped in front of a truck.” It is simply NOT true.

A friend wrote:

He was a very talented musician, an incredibly loving husband to Nancy, and one of the most genuine and intelligent people I have known. Anyone that knew Don and Nancy would report that it is simply unbelievable that he would do such a thing on purpose, which is what this story implies. I don’t believe this story has been researched well enough to publish. It seems not only incomplete, but inaccurate. While I was not a witness, I am a journalist and would never publish this type of story — for all his friends, family, and students to read — without all of my facts checked.

A senior student of his at Mar Vista wrote:

He was my choir teacher and to know that the news and articles are saying that it was a suicide really hurts me and my classmates. I may have only known Mr. Truesdail for about four months but I know enough to know that he would never do such a thing. I know that this case is under investigation and I hope that they get their facts straight because his family and friends know that he would have never been capable of doing this to himself. … No matter what I’m always going to have him in my heart. He inspired me in so many different ways and a person like him deserves to be remembered for ever. I’m going to always remember all the songs he taught me and what a wonderful person he was. I am truly sorry to his family members and wife but i feel so lucky to have ever met such a great man. I will always love u Mr. Truesdail.  God rest your soul and forever keep you in our hearts.

Finally, in comments to the U-T reporter, Don’s mother-in-law wrote:

I have flown in from NY to console my daughter at the lost of her husband. I am shocked at the irresponsibility of your journalism. All of his friends and family are mourning his loss. The police are still investigating the accident and the report is not available, even to the family. We clearly see damage to the front of his vehicle and he was probably trying to check it out when he was fatally hit. We don’t have all the facts of that day, but to say in your article that he intentionally jumped in front of a truck for all to read without knowing the facts is to slander his good reputation.

While we all wait for an apology to Don Truesdail’s family, if you would like to hear a sample of his music, go to his myspace here.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Mar vista high student Stefani January 15, 2009 at 5:37 pm

When our strings, orchestra, and choir heard the news that we had lost Mr. Truesdail, Gasps were heard through out the room. Before our principal could even finish telling us what happened we were all in tears. He was a smart, talented, simple, and amazing man. He was humble and honest. He taught us to be confident and gave us the inspiration we needed to become a great Choir. He was more than our teacher, he was our friend. Our entire choir class is devistated and to hear that he would have commited suicide is just wrong. Mr Truesdail was always happy, no matter what we did our how much we got on his nerves he always kept a smile on his face. He was too young to have passed away and he knew so much about music and he was just so talented! He was known as the cool teacher that everyone looked forward to seeing. He helped our choir suceed. He was amazing in everything he did. Our choir class is still mourning over our loss and we’ve spent the last two days wondering why? why mr. truesdail? why did we have to lose such an amazing person? Justice needs to be served because I know Mr. T didn’t commit suicide. He looked at life as a priviledge and he wouldn’t have let go of something so amazing. We miss him so much and just talking about him brings tears to my eyes. I thank god I met such an amazing man and Mar Vista High Choir ’08-’09 will always Keep him in our hearts. Its made us a stronger choir and we will continue his traditions and keep strong. We love you Mr. Truesdail, and your missed dearly.

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avatar Rose January 15, 2009 at 7:20 pm

I just wanted to say that, though I did not know Mr. Truesdail personally, from what I did know he did not seem in any way suicidal or depressed. I was not one of his students, but he and my band director shared the band room at my school so I would see Mr. Truesdail every day. He always had a smile on his face, was very kind, funny, and cheerful. He never seemed negative or upset. He was also very interesting, and I wish I could have had the chance to get to know him better. I’m sure his family must be terribly distraught because he was a very nice man, and I’m sure that, whatever type of afterlife there may be, he is in a better place.
I’m going to miss seeing you every day, Mr. Truesdail. Thanks for always waiting to lock up the band room so I could get my calculus book. From what I knew of you, you were very nice, and very interesting. You won’t be forgotten.

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avatar Wendy Bergeson January 16, 2009 at 10:49 am

I enjoyed meeting Don last year at Dailard Elementary School. He was getting ready to start his day and I was frantic to take some pictures for the yearbook deadline. Don invited me into the room and totally accomadated me…posing the kids, moving them around, making them laugh and smile…whatever I needed to get the perfect picture. I spent most of the day in the room taking pictures of the different groups of kids he had coming in and out and I could tell he really connected with each and everyone of them in a special way. Watching him with the kids warmed my heart. The children were blessed to have known him and have him in there lives. My thoughts and prayers are with his family!

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avatar jon January 16, 2009 at 11:40 am

This story breaks my heart. Although I did not know Don, I’ve been a loyal Obcean for 10+ years now and I’m sure our paths crossed many times. It sounds like he touched the lives of many people around him and was an inspiration to his students and friends. My thoughts are with his family right now. Shame on the UT for publishing such a heartless sensational piece. Thank you OB Rag for setting the record straight!

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avatar Patty Jones January 17, 2009 at 10:52 am

I am truly touched by the comments left here by Mr. Truesdail’s students and others who knew him. To know he made a difference in the lives of so many makes it that much sadder that he is gone. My heart goes out to those who were changed by his life and his death.

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avatar Mikayla-Choir Student January 18, 2009 at 9:25 pm

I am disappointed beyond words to see that U-T published such an article without getting ALL the facts. Reading that article made me want to scream “Is U-T CRAZY?!?!”
I know without a doubt that my teacher did not commit suicide.
Mr.Truesdail was an amazing person. He was outgoing, talented, patient, kind hearted, and believe me I could go on and on. You could see right through him how strong his love for music was and how much he enjoyed sharing the gift of music with others.
When all his classes found out the news, there was not a one person in tears. All these thoughts were running through my head, like “Why? Why him? Why so soon?” And “How could this be happening?”
Even to this day, It still feels likes a really bad dream. I still find myself thinking he’ll be back in class soon, as if he just took a mini vacation. My classmates and I are still very devastated from this loss.
One thing about Mr.Truesdail that was different from most teachers was that, he wasn’t just a teacher..he was our friend. He cared about each and every one of his students which really caught my attention. For me personally, he made sure I KNEW that I wasn’t just a good singer, but a great one. He proved several times that he believed in me when I didn’t fully believe in myself and because of that.. he impacted my life dramatically.
Words cannot say how much I will miss having him as my choir teacher,but I am so thankful for the time that I got to have with him. For only knowing him since September of 2008 and making such an impact on my life really shows how much of an amazing person Mr.Truesdail really was. I will forever cherish the memories and take with me everything he has taught me.
MVH Choir will keep singing for we know he would want us to stick together. My heart goes out to all his family and friends, for I feel your pain.

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avatar Janet Parker January 19, 2009 at 4:09 am

I was Don’s Choir teacher when he was in high school am truly saddened by the news of his accident. There is no doubt in my mind that it was an accident. Don loved life and music too much for it to be anything. I’m sure his love for his wife, Nancy, brought him great joy too. Don was always seeking to know more and be more. He was the kind of student every teacher loves to have. His loss to those who knew him is great. His loss to the teaching profession is great. His loos to music is great.

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avatar tommy dahill January 19, 2009 at 11:06 am

Without video evidence it is impossible to declare this a suicide. Don was a friend of mine and, without trying to, had a deep impact on my life. I am enraged by how this shoddy journalism has brought so much suffering to his family. He was not a suicidal person; in fact, it was his perseverence that affected me so much, and I am very disturbed by the lack of professionalism displayed by our local media.

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avatar Josh January 19, 2009 at 5:03 pm

I grew up with Don, went to high school with him in upstate NY…probably knew him for close to 30 years. I haven’t seen him since ’93, but none of these comments surprise me. Its a sad day for OFA.

Goodbye old friend.

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avatar Brad, Kim, and Nick Sullivan January 23, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Mr Truesdail was an amazing, wonderful man. He was our instrumental teacher at Dailard and our sons guitar teacher on the side. We wish we had one more chance to tell him how much we appreciated him and his positive influence on all our lives. He was a man of genuine character, kind-hearted, thoughtful, and ALWAYS so ENCOURAGING. This kind of man would not purposely end his own life. His family and close friends are in our prayers. He will be deeply missed.
Thank you for the music Mr. Truesdail.

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avatar ISAIAH O February 23, 2010 at 5:55 pm

WHOA THIS GUY TUAGHT ME IN THE 5TH GRADE

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