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Authorities want to identify senior overpass jumper
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A man jumped to his death from the Hatch Road overpass as he faced southbound traffic early Friday. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

The apparent tragic suicide of an older white man by jumping from the Hatch Road overpass onto Highway 99 below early Friday sent authorities to call for the public's help in identifying him.

"We're not having any luck with fingerprints," said Tom Killian, a deputy coroner with the Stanislaus County Coroner's facility.

The victim, judged to be in his late 60s or early 70s, left no identification. He did, however, leave a suicide note inside the compartment under the flip-up seat of his copper-colored walker which he left atop the overpass, said Killian. The unsigned note read: "I have no intention of spending my final days laying in a hospital bed in pain just waiting to die. From this point on you will build your own opinion of me and what they read in the papers. You will never know the whole story."

In the darkness, the man fell from the overpass' northern railing over the middle southbound lane. Killian believes the man probably died from the impact from falling the estimated 16 to 21 feet but that he was struck "several times" by vehicles. None of the drivers stopped. The body was dragged or rolled for an estimated 50 feet.

Several motorists began calling 911 at 4:47 a.m. to report the gruesome sight in the #2 lane.

The man seemed to deliberately make it hard for authorities who would have to identify his body. A Modesto Area Express (MAX) bus pass may indicate he lived north of Hatch Road near the overpass. The unsigned pass was issued to a disabled senior rider and valid for June but Killian said in order for it to be used the man would have had to sign it and produce ID to the driver. The pass was housed in a camouflage colored lanyard.

Killian was not able to give a description of the man's clothing, saying it was ripped up and mixed with his remains.

The only other possessions left by the victim included ballpoint pens and a used white mesh baseball cap advertising "Process Piping Maintenance and Installation," a Turlock business.

The walker compartment also yielded a pair of eyeglasses with a string tied around it.

Authorities closed the section of freeway for two hours during the California Highway Patrol investigation.

Anyone who may have clues as to the man's identity are urged to call Killian at 567-4415. Those who may have information about the vehicle that hit the man is asked to call the California Highway Patrol at 545-7440.