Death Investigation Reopened

Donnie Jackson

Donnie Jackson

In an 11 News investigation, we've learned a death case has been reopened after we started asking questions.

It was like any usual Sunday when 73-year-old Donnie Jackson would work out on his property in eastern El Paso County, but sometime that day, on January 29th, something went horribly wrong. Donnie became pinned between his backhoe and his camper trailer. By the time a 911 call came in the following morning, he was already dead.

The dispatcher told first responders over the radio, "Caller is on scene. Not conscious or breathing, pinned."

El Paso County Sheriff deputies and firefighters who arrived at the scene believed it was an accident. Case closed.

The coroner's report shows Donnie Jackson died from mechanical asphyxia. His abdomen was crushed, cutting off blood to his brain. The doctor who did the exam tells me Donnie's injuries show he was likely pinned for several hours. So why did first responders find him on the ground?

“There's no closure. There are unanswered questions," said Teresa Jordan. She’s Donnie’s daughter.

The family took pictures of the scene a day after her father's death. The backhoe and the trailer were apart. Firefighters told me that's how they found the scene the day they found Donnie Jackson.

“Here's the backhoe and the trailer. He got crushed. When they found him, he was laying here,” Teresa demonstrates. “The backhoe had been backed up. You can't back up if you’re pinned in between them."

She said what was even stranger, the tracks they found in the dirt.

There are two arms called outriggers on the side of the backhoe. They are used to stabilize the backhoe, like an emergency brake.

In home video and pictures taken by the family, the backhoe moved forward with one outrigger down and then backed up. The firefighters who arrived on the scene told me they believe it had simply settled backwards.

We met up with a mechanic at Donnie Jackson's house to inspect the backhoe. “There was a drag mark going forward from this outrigger. There was also an 18 inch drag mark coming backwards with it still down. How it got backwards...someone had to be in the cab," Mike Friedel says.

Donnie's daughter was left with even more questions.

I tracked down the woman who found Donnie dead and went to her house. Debbie Simmons told me Donnie was a friend. "He was in love with me and I loved the way he treated me," Debbie said during our interview.

Debbie said she's been on pain medication, so the details of that day are foggy. She told me they talked Sunday morning. She said she got worried when she couldn't reach Donnie on the phone Sunday afternoon, so she drove over to his home on Monday morning. “I just seen he was cold and had no life in him, so I came over here to get some help," said Debbie.

She said she didn't have her cell phone, so she drove back to her house, about 5 minutes away, to call 911 and to get her husband. When she came back to his house to wait for emergency help, she said Donnie was no longer pinned. “When I got back over there with Randy, I said this is not where he was at and he goes, ‘Really?” I said ‘No’. He goes, ‘Well, it's probably the backhoe, the hydraulics had leaked and went down and that's what caused him to fall between and look like he did when they found him,’" said Debbie.
“If it went forward and pinned him, that's where they would’ve found him. If the tractor ran out of fuel, that's where it would’ve been sitting. It wouldn't have drug the outrigger back," says Friedel.

It's details like that, that have his family asking investigators to take another look.

We requested a meeting with detectives, but we were told since it's an open investigation, they can't talk about it.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Anonymous Location: el paso on Feb 22, 2012 at 08:49 PM
    what is unbelievable jas is you just got yourself caught you and your Debbie girl
  • by News Blogger Location: CO Spr on Feb 22, 2012 at 05:15 PM
    Wow! What a story! Great job on this one Laurie. That family deserves justice and if it takes our local media investigators to get the truth out there and exposed, then so be it. If what you are pointing out is so obvious, how come the police missed this? I don't want to believe that such incompetency exists within the dept that handled this "investigation" (and I use that word lightly after watching this story), but it really makes you think since they reopened it. Kinda scary...I just hope they get it right.
  • by seriously! on Feb 22, 2012 at 01:58 PM
    wonderful police work
  • by Anonymous on Feb 22, 2012 at 12:10 PM
    Another great job by EPCSO.
  • by glenda Location: canyon country on Feb 22, 2012 at 12:05 PM
    sounds like Debbie was having a thing With poor Donnie and he wanted nothing to do with her, a woman scorned,furthermore, women know how to use these tools as well as men do. Debbie you and your Randy could very well be the ones to blame. God Knows and you know and Donnie knows being on drugs is not an excuse, the guilt will eat you away.
  • by Fishy on Feb 22, 2012 at 09:28 AM
    It does seem fishy, especially considering this woman who is married claims the dead man was in love with her (and she just liked how he treated her according to her response) so after not getting ahold of him all day she worried and went to get her husband to help. Sounds a little fishy that somehow he managed to get himself squished between the two and then changed position to be on the ground after. Maybe hubby found out about it and this has more to do with a love triangle gone bad. Or maybe the woman thought she could help him, moved the tractor, and he was still dead so she went to call 911. Just a lot of unanswered questions all the way around on this one. glad they reopened the case, even if it ends up proving it was a tradgic accident.
  • by Jaz on Feb 22, 2012 at 08:06 AM
    Nope, don't even know the person. Never heard of the man, till last night on the news. I was just looking at things in the video. Pointing out things. The bucket is down in front. Maybe, it happened like the lady said. The bucket lowered itself. It was late, when I wrote that last night, sorry for the grammar. Looks like, you all are on a witch hunt. You will attack anyone, that has an opinion on the matter. That is really sad, you falsely accuse me. Just for what I wrote. I was in no way, trying to justify it either. Just pointing out thing and asking questions. Sorry if I hit a nerve. Hope you all find peace and the truth. The Sheriff, should come out and dust for finger prints on the Tractor. There is a lot of things that can be done. You can check the phone records and see who called him, Sunday and Monday. See who was the last person, that talked to him on his phone. Even his house phone, you can get records. I hope, you find answers. When things don't add up, it is hard. Sorry for upsetting you.
  • by Wow on Feb 22, 2012 at 04:33 AM
    You know what sounds unbelievable "jas"? That you sound like you were there and are trying to justify the crime scene. Guess what else is unbelievable...?? Your grammar!
  • by Jas on Feb 21, 2012 at 11:53 PM
    I understand this families concerns. But why would anyone live a person to die, if they were only helping them? Who is to say, that those makers were not made by Mr. Jackson himself. I have seen people, lay down the brace & not pick it up to move it just a few feet. It looks to me & I may be wrong. That he was using it to shove the camper on the trailer. Maybe to do that, he did not lift the brace. The backhoe looked like it was down too. I did not see any marks like from the brace. Which would make sense. He did not want to move the brace but the backhoe he did. The backhoe is back by the brace. It is a horrible thing that happen. But to say, someone moved the tracker up and back then in the middle is hard to believe. I am sure they would have lifted both the brace and backhoe down. It looked like, the backhoe was raised everytime. I didn't see any drag marks from it. Who knows if the camper didn't slide some, freeing Mr. Jackson. Thing sometimes happen, that are unbelievable.
    • reply
      by oboy on Feb 22, 2012 at 08:50 PM in reply to Jas
      Jas what it looks like is you got yourself caught, you and your girl there Debbie
      • reply
        by Jaz/Jas on Feb 23, 2012 at 11:08 AM in reply to oboy
        Did you not read my comment above this one? I don't know this person. You guys are weird people. You will slander anyone. That tells me a lot of who you are. You will attack and blame anyone. Wow, that is amazing. Just because a person points out things, You think they are involved. Wow!!God help you. You all need it.
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