30 years after the Loma Prieta earthquake, a Fresno man remembers his partner

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's a note he's kept close for 30 years.

Jim Kinnison from Fresno says he was the last to see Melissa Maxwell the day she died.

Kinnison and Maxwell were both investigators and partners at the Alameda County District Attorney's office in 1989.

On October 17th of that year, they were working together in Sacramento, but Maxwell told Kinnison she needed to be back by 5 p.m. to head to San Francisco.

"She put a note on my wall saying she had to be back by 5, because she had to take care of her niece in san Francisco because her brother and sister-in-law were going to the world series," says Kinnison.

Kinnison says Maxwell was on the road when the quake hit.

The 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake reduced thousands of homes to rubble, and flattened the double decker Cypress freeway.

More than 63 were killed and at least 42 of those who died were on the freeway that collapsed.

Maxwell was one of those victims.

"It was tons of concrete, steel... it crushed everything underneath. She's too young to die. Especially like that," Kinnison says.

Kinnison says the day after the earthquake, he was assigned to pick up a doctor from Mexico who specialized in rescuing victims' disaster zones.

He took him to the bridge, later learning it was also Maxwell's grave.

"They flew him in to see if he can get trapped people from out of the freeway."

To this day, Kinnison remembers the devastation.

It's a day he'll never forget, and once a year, he makes sure to remember the partner he lost.

"On the morning of the anniversary, I'll say hello to Mellisa," he says.

And while the note is simple, It's a memory Kinnison plans to keep for years to come.
Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.