Preliminary autopsy: Death ruled suicide

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A 20-year-old Clovis man found hanging from a utility pole on Monday committed suicide, according to preliminary autopsy results.

Family members said they do not believe Isaac Zarate intentionally killed himself, but may have suffered a concussion that contributed to his death.

Zarate had been missing since Thursday morning when his damaged vehicle was found abandoned on a county road after hitting an unoccupied vehicle, Curry County Sheriff’s officials said.

Curry County Sheriff Matt Murray said officials have not determined a time of death.

Zarate was found by a utility worker in a rural field southeast of the accident site near Sugarbeet and Wilhite roads, sheriff’s officials said previously. However, the sheriff declined to provide details, citing an ongoing investigation.

Murray said his department will not close its investigation until the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator’s findings are complete, but the preliminary results fall in line with what their investigation has revealed.

“There (were) no signs of foul play. It’s consistent with what we thought it was,” he said.

Zarate’s body was discovered around 3 p.m. Monday, about a mile and a half from where officials found his vehicle, police said.

Law enforcement and Zarate’s family, friends and community members searched the fields near the accident site on Thursday and Friday.

Randy Zarate said after seeing the vehicle his son was driving, he believes he might have suffered head and chest injuries.

“We believe that because of the crash that he really didn’t know what was going on and that he had a concussion,” Zarate said.

Randy Zarate said he wants to see the detailed results of the autopsy, including time of death and any other injuries his son may have had.

Murray said investigators have not determined if Isaac Zarate suffered injuries in the accident or whether the accident may have played a role in his death.

Leticia Zarate said her son showed no indications of depression leading up to his disappearance.

“Isaac was very excited about his (new) job,” she said. “Things were going really good for him. … We want him to be remembered by the good things that were going on in his life.

“He was such an incredible kid with so much potential, everybody loved him. We really don’t believe that (suicide) was his intention.”