Donnie Truesdail memorial planned in shadow of CHP’s wrong label of ‘suicide’

by on January 20, 2009 · 3 comments

in Media, Ocean Beach, San Diego

OCEAN BEACH, CA. A memorial for Donnie Truesdail is being planned here in Ocean Beach for next Thursday, January 22nd. His family and friends hope it will allow all the different people touched by the local musician and music teacher to come together and express their sympathies. The planning for the memorial, however, is being done in the dark shadow cast by the California Highway Patrol’s conclusion that Donnie’s death was a ‘suicide.’  The latest Union-Tribune article on Truesdail’s death, published January 17th, states:

Truesdail, 34, died Tuesday morning when he was struck by a truck while walking along Interstate 5 in Barrio Logan, in what the California Highway Patrol believes was a suicide….

The I-5 incident is still under investigation. Witnesses said Truesdail was stopped on the right shoulder of the interstate and had gotten out of his vehicle, said CHP Officer Brad Baehr.

“He was watching traffic and at one point entered the traffic lanes and was struck,” said Baehr. He added that there were no signs that Truesdail’s vehicle had mechanical problems or had been hit.

But this is not true. The CHP’s conclusion is based, apparently, on a number of things: statements by witnesses (who are they?) and some kind of examination of Donnie’s vehicle – an examination that allowed Officer Baehr to tell the U-T, something that the paper, in turn, translated into this: “(Baehr) added that there were no signs that Truesdail’s vehicle had mechanical problems or had been hit.”

But this is not true. We at the OB Rag have seen evidence to the contrary – we have seen evidence that there are indeed signs that Donnie’s vehicle had mechanical problems or had been hit.  Therefore, the CHP’s conclusion that Truesdail’s death was a suicide is based on faulty evidence, and cannot be correct.

So many people have complained, that the Medical Examiner’s Office has asked the CHP to re-examine the circumstances of his death, as the U-T reports.

Meanwhile, friends and family of Donnie Truesdail have planned the memorial for him – at the Portugalia restaurant- club at 4839 Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach, for Thursday January 22nd, at 6 pm. The memorial will be in lieu of the regular musical program that Truesdail’s musician cohorts regularly provide there. Donnie played with his friends, the Jefferson Jay Band occasionally, and last played at Portugalia on December 18th last year.

The memorial is open to anyone who was touched by Donnie.  A DVD of him performing will be played and made available.  The memorial will include some music by his friends.

Donnie was killed while on the way to work last Tuesday, January 13th, along southbound I-5. The Union-Tribune immediately called it a ‘suicide’ because that’s what the California Highway Patrol and the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office concluded.  Then Donnie’s friends, students, and family bombarded the U-T and the Medical Examiner with complaints about the apparent premature call of the cause of death.

We at the OB Rag responded with a post published on the 14th, at least questioning the ‘suicide’, and republishing some of the comments left by family and friends at the original U-T article at SignOnSanDiego, the newspaper’s online website.  Ever since, we’ve had hundreds of hits to our post. On Saturday, the 17th, the Union-Tribune published its second article, more thoughtfully written, more balanced, but still unwilling to retract the label of ‘suicide’, and essentially hiding behind the Medical Examiner and CHP, not doing its own investigation.

Further aggravating their grief and devastation, no governmental agency has shared with Truesdail’s family any reports or information on what happened, on the witnesses, OR on the truck that hit him since – the day of the accident when the family was initially told about the tragedy, a source close to the family has told us.

But looking at what we know, and logically extending that; there is some evidence of a mechanical problem or that Donnie’s vehicle had been hit. That being so, there probably were two incidents then. The first one – an incident, by the way, that is denied  by the CHP – caused something to his Toyota. Donnie probably stopped and got out, as most people do when they’ve  been involved in some kind of accident or fender-bender.  It was then that he was hit and fatally injured – after the first incident – – . He was not killed in the first incident. He was hit during a second incident.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

DonsSister January 20, 2009 at 3:56 am

Thank you, OB Rag, for challenging the slanderous slant of the UT. I would like to let anyone from NY know (Where Don grew up) that there is a memorial service for him in Owego, NY at the VFW banquet hall, upstairs this coming Saturday, January 24 from noon to four PM. Anyone who would like to speak about Donnie is asked to prepare a two minute speech. Also, the family would love any copies of pictures, movies or songs that you have of his. If you would like to see and/or sign a comment onto his obituary, it was published yesterday in the Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin, and can be located here:

Thank you once again. It is a major relief to hear that others believe our TRUE side of the story…


Regina January 20, 2009 at 7:25 am

Thank you for writing a well balanced and much needed article on this wonderful man.

Thank you.


Collin January 21, 2009 at 8:16 pm

I am so glad to hear that this tragedy was an accident and not deliberate as I heard earlier last week. nevertheless I am saddened to know another wonderfully gifted musician and friend has passed on. Be well in the great gig in the sky.


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