County Medical Examiner Now Calls Truesdail’s Death ‘Accident’ – Memorial Tonight at Portugalia

by on January 22, 2009 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

OCEAN BEACH, CA.   The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office changed its ruling on Don Truesdail’s death from ‘suicide’ to accident, as of late January 21st, as reported by the Union-Tribune this morning.   Less than 24 hours before Truesdail’s memorial in Ocean Beach was to be held, the Medical Examiner made its change after pressure from the public; family and friends of Truesdail contacted its office and local media to complain.  In addition, we at the OB Rag blog, have supported the family’s position that the incident that caused Donnie’s fatal injuries was an accident when he was hit on south-bound I-5 alongside the freeway on January 13th.

Donnie Truesdail’s memorial is tonight, January 22nd, at Portugalia, a restaurant bar at 4839 Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach. The event, organized by his wife Nancy and good friends and musicians, is open to the public and those touched by Donnie, and will start at 6pm.

Controversy has surrounded Truesdail’s death ever since it was reported, as initially, the California Highway Patrol had labeled it a suicide according to “witnesses” and based on its “investigation” that Truesdail’s vehicle had no evidence of malfunction or having been hit.  Yet, from evidence seen by OB Rag staff, there was indeed evidence to the contrary, that his vehicle did show signs of malfunction or being struck.

What evidence there was and the claims of Truesdail’s students, family and friends undermined the CHP report of ‘suicide.’  Now, with the Medical Examiner changing its finding, the family can grieve easier.

There is a memorial service back in his home state for Donnie in Owego, New York, on Saturday, January 24th. (For his hometown obituary, go here.)

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie January 23, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Patty and I attended a very moving memorial for Don Truesdail at Portugalia last night – Thursday Jan 22. There must have been over a hundred friends and family and students crowded into the upstairs restaurant-bar stage area. Even though we had to leave after acouple of hours, we watched a great slideshow on him and his wife Nancy in their recent years together, a dvd on his last performance on that very stage on Dec. 18th, and then this incredible performance by dozens of his students singing and playing instruments. That was the most moving for us – seeing the many students he had touched in just a short 4 months at their school. “It’s all about the music.”
Again, our condolences to Nancy and Don’s family, and thanks for the excellent memorial to a young heart we never knew in life, but who we got to know only afterwards. Thanks Jefferson Jay and others who put on the event.
frank gormlie & patty jones


Philly B January 24, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Don was a good a friend of mine. It still seems like he could walk into the bar at Portugalia or I could see his name on the caller id on my cell phone. I guess it just doesn’t seem real.
The service was beautiful though and to see as many people turn out as did was incredible. To know that he was loved by that many people touches my heart and I’m sure Nancy’s and everyone whose been involved in the little circle we have in Ocean Beach.


Jon-Anthoni Nieves April 30, 2009 at 7:32 am

Hi! I am a student of Mr. Truesdail’s at Mar Vista High School. When we all heard the devastating news about the accident, gasps went around the entire room. My initial reaction were not tears, it was disbelief. When I started comforting my fellow classmates and friends, that’s when the sobbing began. Its been four months, now, almost five and I still can’t believe he is gone. I think about him EVERYDAY! and there are times where I get into these spots where I just cry and cry and cry for hours non-stop. He meant a lot to all of us, he still does. For a while I was in denial, I tried to convince myself that “maybe he’s not really gone, maybe he’s just hiding, maybe he’s taking a break”. He’s not though. We all just wish that we could have gotten a chance to say goodbye in person. The teacher and friend we once knew is really gone, but his spirit and talent, love and memory will live on forever!



Raffi May 11, 2016 at 8:01 pm

If I didn’t love him I would have hated him due to jealously. Every time he called Binghamton for a check in we joked how great his life is and I always let him know how happy I was for his happiness.


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