Autopsy: No 'medical event' in truck driver's salon crash

SNELLVILLE -- Authorities are still trying to figure out what led 66-year-old Donald Samples to pilot his tractor-trailer across Scenic Highway and into a Lawrenceville hair salon Wednesday morning. An autopsy, though, found no sign of one possibility proposed by many at the scene.

Police said Samples, a Snellville resident, was driving his truck northbound on Scenic Highway when he veered left near Essex Drive. He crossed over the median, southbound lanes and a parking lot before crashing into The Hair Parlor salon and a restaurant called O-Wings.

Samples was dead on the scene. No other injuries were reported.

It was determined Wednesday that Samples died from injuries sustained in the crash, but exactly what caused the incident was unclear. Witnesses and authorities alike surmised that a medical condition -- like a heart attack or seizure -- could've been the trigger.

An autopsy didn't reveal anything like that. A medical examiner's official said that doesn't mean it didn't happen.

"There was no evidence detected at autopsy of a major medical event that could have led to the accident," chief forensic investigator Ted Bailey said.

But: "Not finding a catastrophic natural disease process at autopsy does not exclude natural causes as precipitating the cause. It can only confirm it. It cannot exclude it."

Gwinnett County police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said no updates were available Thursday. The GCPD accident investigation unit is attempting to determine what led Samples off the roadway; drugs and alcohol are not believed to be factors.

Neither business affected was open at the time of the incident. About 100 feet down the strip mall, a karate school was hosting a summer camp with more than 20 children inside.


notamom 1 year, 3 months ago

Maybe he fell asleep at the wheel?


gandars 1 year, 3 months ago

He had just spent the memorial day weekend off work and with his family. The crash happened around 10 am. Not likely.


Gundoctor1 1 year, 3 months ago

Or just maybe he was texting on his phone!!!!!


gandars 1 year, 3 months ago

First of all, this was a 66 year old grandfather and Vietnam vet. Do you really think he would be texting, and if so whom? Secondly, he owned a cell phone that dialed out and received calls. No web browsing. No texting. And thirdly, don't you think the police already looked at his phone, which was in his truck, to rule something like that out? Don't make ridiculous accusations, specially about someone you never knew.


MichelleCouch 1 year, 3 months ago

If he had a mild to moderate, neurological, seizure - would that necessarily show up on an autopsy?

My son and I both have had series of seizures, but every test performed (excluding an autopsy of course) turned up normal... they never determined why the seizures happened.

So if this gentleman had the same type of seizure, would it even be determined by autopsy? Just raising the question; I'm no doctor, nor do I play one on TV...


lissabelle 1 year, 2 months ago

@MichelleCouch..you are correct.

Functional or electrolye abnormalities cannot be detected by any autopsy. The information within the article was coming from a representative with the MedicalExaminer's Office, NOT a doctor.


Sign in to comment