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Widow of 'Singing Cowboy' Gene Autry kills pedestrian while driving in Palm Springs

Jackie_autry  The 69-year-old widow of famed “Singing Cowboy” Gene Autry struck and killed a homeless man while driving in Palm Springs on Thanksgiving Day, authorities said.

Jackie Autry struck 50-year-old Jesus Cardova Diaz as she was driving on Sunrise Way, north of Ramon Road, said Det. Steve Woodward, a traffic investigator with the Palm Springs Police Department.

Diaz was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center, where he later died, Woodward said.

Diaz, who was believed to be homeless, was not in a crosswalk when he was struck. Autry was not cited and did not undergo a blood alcohol test because it was clear she was not under the influence, Woodward said.

Investigators were awaiting autopsy results to see if Diaz was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.


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Photo: Jackie Autry in 2002. Credit: Amy Sanchetta / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (96)

I just hope that the damage to Jackie's car was minimal and she is not too inconvenienced during the time it takes to get it repaired. The dead guy's family should be forced to pay for those repairs and kick in a little extra for the inconvenience.

Rich white people don't mean to hurt the homeless, they just get in the way.


Hey, can I shoot someone and have their corpse's criminal record checked?

My husband pays taxes than some people, so they owe me!

"Jackie is a wonderful person. Some of you posting these hateful comments seem to be missing that Jesus Cardova Diaz was not walking in a crosswalk as is the law. "

I hope your kid that runs after a ball/dog/baby sister always does so within a crosswalk. Including in places where there are no marked crosswalks, or where the crosswalks are 1/2 mile apart. I wonder if I'd have to rewax my GMC, or they'll just rinse off? Thankfully it has skid plates, so they won't mess up the fan belt!

Check his residency status as well, and then save some money on the investigation...

Based on the majority of ignorant comments posted on this thread, I am beginning to understand how Moonbeam and Boxer won the election. The hell with a border wall. We need to build a wall around California. Kinda like a quarantine.

Let's quit slinging insults from both sides and see an opportunity here. WHY IS IT NOT A LAW that every driver involved in an accident with serious injury and or DEATH must be fully tested for drugs and alcohol, and have their cell phone checked to see if they were using it. This lady may very well be innocent, but when a DEATH is involved, it should not be up to the police officer who happens to be on duty to decide who is at fault. He didn't see what happened, and maybe there were no other witnesses. We need some STANDARDS that apply to everybody, this is supposed to be a country where all are equal under the law.

I can see her not being cited if he was not in the cross-walk, and witnesses said he stepped out in front of her. But it happened to me, you can be sure they would have had me walk the line at the very least. She could have been loaded on pills. I have nerve damage and have to take pain killers sometimes. I sound fine; you would never know, but you wouldn't want me behind the wheel.

@Jess: Why should she pay a fine or get a slap on the wrist? The guy crossed the street out of a cross walk, so it's his bad.

I don't think J-walking should be illegal, but I also don't see why a driver should be held responsible for someone crossing a road when not at a crosswalk or intersection.

From the Autry website:

"Born in Newark, New Jersey on October 2, 1941, Jacqueline Autry spent most of her formative years in Ironia, New Jersey. In 1959 she traveled to California to attend the University of California at Berkeley with the intention of majoring in Physical Education and minoring in History. Instead, she went to work for Security First National Bank (later Security Pacific National Bank) as a switchboard operator."

So, when some commenters here presume class and education, you'll find none here. What kind of person inflates her personal resume by claiming they "intended to attend Berkeley" when they have no college education? This resume is written this way to make a gullible reader think Jackie attended Berkeley. She did not. She graduated from high school and traveled to California where she began work as a switchboard operator.

From Palm Springs gossip books: Jackie and Gene went on their first date on New Years' Eve after his first wife's death. It is reported in those books that they hit it off because they drank themselves fall down silly that night. There are other reports that Mrs. Autry is a graduate of the Betty Ford Clinic, but unfortunately the cure did not take.

She most definitely should have been tested for alcohol and drugs if there was a dead man on the road. The way the story came out of the Police Department screams cover up. It screams. There must be an investigation.

it was clear she was NOT under the influence? hmmm.....

so she was NOT given a field sobriety test and she's not going to be charged?!? really?? what time of day did this accident take place?? if it was broad daylight-- how did she not see the man-- even if he wasn't in a crosswalk?!? being in a crosswalk doesn't automatically render you colored in red neon for you to stand out-- if there is an obstacle in the roadway-- crosswalk or not-- would you not see it?!? if this took place at night-- it might be more understandable-- perhaps this is a poorly lit street-- but still not unavoidable. it leads people to wonder what exactly Mrs. Autry was doing while she was driving that she didn't notice a person crossing the street.

i am not saying she PURPOSELY ran over and killed this man, but that is why we have involuntary manslaughter or involuntary vehicular manslaughter charges. they carry no malice aforethought, but do point out that she is responsible for this man's death-- BECAUSE SHE IS-- if she had been completely attentive (assuming the man didn't run into the street), she probably could have avoided hitting him or swerved to avoid hitting him-- and that is what manslaughter charges are for.

the fact that he was homeless doesn't render Mr. Diaz sub-human and not deserving of justice-- but this situation clearly points out how in this case a person with money & status has an advantage over someone that doesn't.

@ Chris: i didn't intend to respond to anyone's particular post here, until i saw yours-- maybe it's been a while since you took your driver's test, but whether a person is in the crosswalk or not, pedestrians always have the right of way-- this is driver's ed 101-- when you are in your vehicle you clearly have the advantage of the protection of your vehicle's composition, and a clear advantage over a human body-- which is why, if you SEE someone crossing the street, even if they are not in the crosswalk-- you yield or slow down or stop. only an idiot would think that because someone is not in the crosswalk that you have a right to run them over...and i say this for the benefit of Mrs. Autry, not yourself.

Maybe, I don't know. Shia Labeouf is a "rich white" man but he still had to submit to tests when his truck was hit at a traffic light a few years ago. I love how people are saying it's only in America, when everyone who reads the news knows how often worse than this happens in other countries.

the law is that if pedestrians are crossing at any corner, regardless of a crosswalk, the pedestrian has the right of way. why the focus on a crosswalk or no crosswalk? was he at a corner? if so, she has to stop, not mow him down. at the very least, it's reckless driving/negligent homicide to kill him if he was crossing at a corner, which gave him the right of way...

So she did not smell like booze; what about the 20 bottles of meds in her purse that all say "DO NOT DRIVE WHILE TAKING"?

Man this is one messed up story if you read the threads on all three stories on the LA Times website.

The incident happened Thanksgiving evening after Mrs. Autry and her friends had been at a holiday celebration. No news of the incident is reported by the news media for 5 days. Then, the Palm Springs Police put out a story that even though the man died, they did not charge Mrs. Autry with manslaughter. They also failed to gather any evidence from her in the form of a breathalyzer test or blood test. But they are testing the blood alcohol level of the pedestrian. This is either incompetent investigation by the police department, or, more likely, a cover up.

I have a theory here,,She was driving in Palm Springs, still Angels Territory and Rudolph was guiding her rich white woman's car. Rudolph is the one who shoulda been tested. Isn't his nose red..HMMM !!!

The police acted stupidly. Of course they followed standard operating procedure.

Ok enough , Jesse C . Diaz was a proud American He loved watching cowboy movies the Duke was his favorite and yes Gene was included in many afternoon TV watching . Jesse worked hard with his Father Elias Diaz in late 70's early 80's.his father new men like Chuck Conners And others that would purchase materials.I don't know why he was out there . He was born and raised in L.A.

Leave it alone..!!

A blatant case of arbitrary and capricious enforcement of the laws. Surprised they didn't claim the deceased victim was an illegal resident along with being homeless considering how quickly they "solved" the case.

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