FRESNO, California (KFSN) — dr. Venu Gopal, Fresno County’s chief forensic pathologist, died Saturday morning as his car drove down the mountainside of the four-lane portion of Highway 168 in the Auberry area.
The investigation began after Gopal’s family called to report that their father never showed up for work.
Investigators ping and traced his phone to 168 near Beal Fire Road.
California Highway Patrol officers say it appears that 69-year-old Gopal was driving west on the highway when he lost control of his Nissan sedan for unknown reasons, causing him to veer left and off the lane. He was pronounced dead on the spot.
The CHP says that Gopal was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
Gopal worked for the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, which also performs the coroner’s duties.
In a statement, the agency said: “The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and our community have suffered a tremendous loss. Dr. Venu Gopal was an amazing man who did an incredible job during his 30-year career with the Coroner’s Office. families and also contributed to delivering justice to loved ones in mourning. We would like to thank Dr. Gopal for his service. He will be greatly missed. God bless him and his family.” –
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office added that it was not uncommon for him to work seven days a week for months.
In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, he was the Coroner Office’s sole forensic pathologist after a colleague retired. That year, he performed 350 autopsies and 500 exams. Through his efforts, he was honored as Sheriff’s Office Employee of the Year.
Gopal graduated from Bangalore Medical University in the state of Kamataka, India, and immigrated to the United States in the 1980s. He started working for Fresno County in 1992.
Outside of work, Gopal was extremely active in his temple.
He is survived by his wife and two children.
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