Officials from the sheriff’s office said 69-year-old Doctor Venu Gopal of Clovis was killed when he lost control of his car for an unknown reason and drove off the shoulder near Highway 168 and Beal Fire Road.
The car went over a cliff along the highway and landed 200 feet down the mountainside after the crash.
Doctor Gopal came to the United States in the 1980s after graduating from Bangalore Medical Univesity and getting his medical license in India, later completing his residency in pathology at St. Vincent’s Medical Center of Richmond in New York.
He started his career in Fresno County in 1992, becoming such a dedicated member of the coroner’s office that officials said he would often work seven days a week for months at a time.
“The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and our community has suffered an enormous loss. Dr. Venu Gopal was an amazing man who performed incredible work during his 30 year career at the Coroner’s Office,” sheriff’s office officials wrote in a press release. “He helped provide much needed answers to grieving families and also contributed to delivering justice to loved ones in mourning. We wish to thank Dr. Gopal for his service. He will be greatly missed. God Bless he and his family.”
In 2020 alone, Doctor Gopal was responsible for performing 350 autopsies and 500 external exams by himself after the department’s other forensic pathologist retired amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his free time, Doctor Gopal actively served as a dedicated member of his temple.
Doctor Gopal is survived by his wife and two children.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but drugs or alcohol were not involved.