Death Investigation Reopened

Donnie Jackson

Donnie Jackson

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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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