Family demands autopsy, answers

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Investigators Tuesday sought to piece together the last minutes of Darnell Young's life to understand why he was lying in the middle of Nash Road when a car struck him.

Family members also wondered about the accident that killed Young Monday, demanding an autopsy, wife Susan Young said.

"They had said initially that it was a closed case and they had taken him from the scene to the mortuary," she said. "It is not satisfying our curiosity about it."

Darnell and Susan Young lived at 412 Koch Ave. in Cape Girardeau with her daughter from a previous marriage, Breanna Brown, as well as Susan Young's elderly mother and two other women.

Finding people who saw Young, 42, an employee of Botkin Lumber Co., Inc., along Nash Road around 7 p.m. Monday is the key, said Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Cody Fulkerson. The case is an open investigation, he said.

Fulkerson said he interviewed several people who saw Young walking between 6:45 and 7 p.m.

Young lay in the westbound lane of Nash Road when he was run over at 7:08 p.m. by two vehicles -- first a Honda Accord driven by Sheilah Enderle of Chaffee and then by a Mazda pickup truck driven by Michael Johnson of Chaffee.

Young was pronounced dead at the scene.

He reported to work at Botkin Lumber for his regular shift at 4 p.m., said Donna Carpenter, the company's human resources manager. He left at 4:45 p.m., complaining about a stomach ailment, then returned at approximately 6:20 p.m. No one at the lumber processing company saw him leave again, she said.

Vicki Walker, an employee at nearby Motorcycle Stuff, saw him in the road about 6:55 p.m., when she was leaving work. He was walking west in the middle of the road near ABF Freight Systems, she said. That company is about a 1 1/4 miles east of Botkin Lumber.

"For one split second, if I had taken my eyes off the road, I could have hit him," she said, adding that she yelled at Young from her car to get out of the roadway.

Young died about three-fourths of a mile east of Botkin Lumber, in front of Huttig Building Products.

An autopsy was performed Tuesday afternoon, Cape Girardeau County Coroner John Clifton said. Results of toxicology tests will take three to four weeks, he said.

So far, Fulkerson and Clifton said, there is no indication Young was hit by a car while standing.

The section of Nash Road where Young died is unlit. The sun set Monday at 6:18 p.m.. Little or no light remained at the time of his death.

Friends and family said Young often walked wherever he needed to go, sometimes long distances. Neighbor Clint Simmons, who works at Motorcycle Stuff, said Young was friendly and always willing to help. "He was always wrenching on a vehicle," he said. "He was a really nice guy."

Simmons said he saw Young along Nash Road about 5:30 p.m., as did Jamie Wills, another Motorcycle Stuff employee. That was during Young's excused absence from Botkin Lumber.

A car driven by two women pulled into the Huttig lot, Wills said, and Young got in. "He seemed normal, just walking down the side of the road."

Those women were the two who shared their home on Koch Avenue, Susan Young said. Darnell Young had called for a ride when he left work the first time, she said, and the two women went because she had to care for her mother. The young women took him to an area store, then returned him to work, Susan Young said.

The loss devastated her, Susan Young said. She and Darnell Young were married in August 2004.

"In all honesty, we would like the roots of the truth known," Susan Young said. "We are a little bitter, but we are just praying. We have had a big loss."

To find the truth, Fulkerson said he needs people who saw Young to come forward and he needs complete cooperation from the family.

There is no suspicion that Young's death was anything but an accident, Fulkerson said.

"It is typical, like any other investigation, people know more than they are telling," Fulkerson said. "Naturally, they get scared when police come around. But all I am trying to figure out is why this man is not alive anymore."

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611 extension 126

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