Max Shacknai's Death Remains 'Accident'

Boy fatally injured in July 2011 won't be reopened, Coronado Police say

By Lauren Steussy, Paul Krueger and Sarah Grieco
|  Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012  |  Updated 2:25 PM PDT
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Violent Death at Coronado Beachfront Mansion: Images

Courtesy of Jonah Shacknai

Max Shacknai died last July after injuries he sustained when he fell from the second story balcony at Coronado beachfront home known as Spreckels mansion.

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The death of a 6-year-old boy who fell last summer in the Spreckels Mansion will remain classified as an accident, despite a request from the boy's mother to reopen the case.

Coronado Police sent a letter saying the manner of Max Shacknai's July 11, 2011 death as an "Accident" remains unchanged.

Max fell from a railing in the home's front stairwell and struck the carpeted floor face first, fracturing his forehead. He died a week later. On July 14, Rebecca Zahau, the girlfriend of Max’s father Jonah, was found hanging nude from a second-story balcony at the home.

Timeline of events in the Spreckels mansion deaths

Max's mother Dina Shacknai announced last month in a statement that a team was hired to conduct their own investigation that began last year.

Two independent experts were also hired to assist with the examination.

“Things just didn’t add up to me, so I hired independent experts to review the findings,” Dina Shacknai said in a prepared statement last month. “When I started this process all I knew is that I wanted the truth, wherever that led, like any parent would.”

Forensic pathologist Dr. Judy Melinek contributed to the independent investigation, ultimately calling the manner of Max’s death "inaccurate."

Melinek said there is the possibility of a scenario in which Max was assaulted, leading to his fall from the balcony. The sheriff's department officially ruled Max's death an accident last year.

Dina Shacknai’s presented her team's findings to the Coronado Police Department. Their response was sent in a letter dated August 30.

“We feel there was insufficient information that would compel us to change the manner of death or conduct additional investigation at this time,” said Coronado Police Cmdr. Mike Lawton in a statement Monday.

In response, Shacknai told a local television station that the department's decision was a "glaring mistake."
 
 

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