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Overpass jumper identified
Jump site
Authorities have no idea why Jeffrey Scott Stafford, 58, of Modesto, traveled all the way to Ceres to jump off the Hatch Road overpass to his death Friday morning. Stafford landed in the middle southbound lane where he was struck by several vehicles. - photo by Courtesy of Google

Authorities have identified the man who on Friday morning jumped to his death on Highway 99 from the top of the Hatch Road overpass as a Modesto transient.

Jeffrey Scott Stafford, 58, left an unsigned note and no ID before he jumped, prompting the coroner's office to call for the public's help. Tom Killian, a deputy coroner with the Stanislaus County Coroner's facility, said a motel manager from Budgetel Inn on McHenry Avenue in Modesto called Friday afternoon to report finding a suicide note penned by Stafford, who lived there on a day-to-day basis. Killian confirmed the identity through a match of a fingerprint on file.

It's unknown why Stafford traveled all the way from McHenry Avenue to Ceres to stage his death. He left his copper-colored walker which had a compartment under the flip-up seat. Inside was a suicide note that 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."

Relatives living in Hawaii, Idaho and Redding were contacted and said Stafford recently reached out to them and he seemed to be in poor health.

"He had quite a few medical issues as well," said Killian.

Other possessions left behind included an unsigned Modesto Area Express (MAX) bus pass which was issued for a disabled senior rider and valid for June, eyeglasses, ballpoint pens and a used white mesh baseball cap imprinted with "Process Piping Maintenance and Installation," tracing back to a Turlock business.

Killian said Stafford fell from the overpass' northern railing over the middle southbound lane and likely died from the impact but was then 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.

Authorities closed the section of freeway for two hours during the California Highway Patrol and Sheriff's Department investigation.

Those who may have information about the vehicles that hit the man is asked to call the California Highway Patrol at 545-7440.