Crash Witness: Suspect Didn't Steal Purse

One of the Marines who rushed to rescue a dying woman says the CHP has the wrong man.

Officers arrested Mark Christopher Struk, 31, for stealing the purse of a dying pregnant woman, now CHP investigators say Struk might not be their guy.

The Carlsbad man faces charges that he stopped and stole the purse but now one witness says Struk didn't steal anything.

The theft occurred after a hit and run crash early Sunday morning on northbound Interstate 5 in Solana BeachGonzalez, 24, was partially ejected from the Ford Explorer she and her family were riding in.  Several Marines stopped and tried to rescue her, but she and her unborn baby did not survive.

During the commotion of that horrific accident scene a car pulled over, a woman got out of the passenger side, stole the victim's purse, and then the car drove away, according to the California Highway Patrol. Officers said witnesses at the scene gave them detailed descriptions and a license plate number that led them to Struk.

Struk denied the theft to the media as he was being transferred to a patrol car after his arrest. When he was released from jail Wednesday, a television station reported friends waited to take him home. He told the news crew he is "Guilty of  nothing other than being a good Samaritan. My heart goes out to the family."

One of the Marines who rushed to rescue Gonzalez says the CHP has the wrong man. "As I recall, we had finished turning over the SUV and I heard him yell out 'I saw this purse!'" said Cpl Solomon Huss. "He dropped it on the freeway about 20 feet from where we were."

Struk told a television news reporter when he was released from custody Wednesday that he "physically dropped the purse by the vehicle" and spoke to a man standing near the victim's car.

"Because of this new information we are going to re-interview Solomon Huss," Sgt. Scott Payson said Thursday.  "If we got it wrong, we want to make sure we got it right."

"Statements by the public -- witnesses that were there immediately after the scene and observed and were able to describe exactly what happened --  they gave very accurate descriptions of the parties that were involved and we went from there," said CHP officer Mark Latulippe.

But according to Huss he thinks Struk shouldn't face any charges. "He shouldn't have to pay the price," he said. "I think he should be thanked for actually trying to secure the purse."

Struk faces a felony theft charge.

John Francis Sudac, 27, surrendered Sunday night in connection with the crash. Officers said he is the man who caused the accident and now faces gross vehicular manslaughter and DUI charges. Sudac was released on $200,000 bail on Tuesday night. He is due back in court next week.

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