MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) --Family members of a man who had been missing since Tuesday woke up this morning to the devastating news.
Jerry Madruga, 80, was hit and killed while walking across Highway 99 in Madera. Investigators believe the Kings County man had dementia that may have contributed to the tragic collision
A neighbor was one of the last people to see Madruga alive. Deputies believe he drove away from his quaint country home Tuesday afternoon. His son's final contact with him was Monday evening.
"He is 80-years-old and there is no indication that he had a cell phone or responded to a cell phone," said Dave Putnam, Kings County Sheriff's Office.
Detectives don't know where Madruga went after leaving his Hanford home. The California Highway Patrol officers said just before 5:00 a.m. Thursday, he was walking on Highway 99-- about 41 miles away from his house.
"The pedestrian came from the center divide, walked across the number one lane, into the number two lane, and the big rig driver was unable to avoid colliding with the pedestrian," said Josh McConnell, California Highway Patrol.
Madruga died and officers later located his wrecked Toyota Corolla a short distance away.
"Ended up crashing his vehicle into some vineyards, maybe he was disoriented. Approximately 80-years-old. He exited his vehicle and somehow made his way onto the freeway and was wandering around in the center divide," said McConnell.
The deputy who responded to the missing persons call Wednesday didn't notice anything unusual at Madruga's home. The residence was secure and nothing appeared to be suspicious.
Family members said the elderly man was independent and strong-willed, and although had some recent signs of dementia still lived on his own.
The tragic ending to his life leaves his family saddened and struggling with many unanswered questions.