Dead Woman's Missing Property Found in SUV

Investigators with the California Highway Patrol said Friday they had recovered a wallet allegedly stolen after a crash that claimed the life of a pregnant woman.

On Thursday, one of the Marines who rushed to rescue the dying woman said the CHP may have the wrong man.

Earlier this week, officers arrested Mark Christopher Struk, 31, accusing him of stealing the purse. The Carlsbad man faces charges that he stopped and stole the woman's property but now one witness said he saw Struk drop the wallet at the scene.

On Friday, the CHP said that a witness additional "information that partially corroborates Mr. Mark Christopher Struk's statements to CHP investigators." The CHP said that the wallet was placed back into the Ford Explorer at some point, but they said that a large amount of cash and two passports were missing from the wallet when it was recovered.

The theft occurred after a hit-and run-crash early Sunday morning on northbound Interstate 5 in Solana Beach. Yine Gonzalez, 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, and picked something up. The CHP said on Sunday that 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 transferred to a patrol car after his arrest. When he was released from jail Wednesday, he told the news crew he was "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 said he saw Struk leave the wallet at the scene.

"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.

Huss thinks Struk shouldn't face any charges.

"He shouldn't have to pay the price," Huss 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.

The CHP has been not been able locate a passenger riding with Sudac, nor have they identified to the media who the passenger riding with Struk was.

Anybody with information about the case is being urged to all the Oceanside office of the CHP at 760-757-1675 858-637-3800.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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