The California Highway Patrol (CHP) reports that on August 27, 2022, at approximately 10:00 am, officers responded to a report of an injury collision on Highway 168, east of Beal Fire Road in Auberry.
A preliminary investigation indicates 69 year old Venu Gopal of Clovis was driving a Nissan sedan westbound on Hwy. 168 on the so-called Four-Lane. For an unknown reason, Gopal was unable to maintain control of the Nissan, allowing it to veer to the left and off the roadway. The car went off the shoulder and careened approximately 200 feet down the mountainside. Gopal sustained critical injuries and was later pronounced deceased at the scene. Members of the Fresno County Search and Rescue Team, CHP Patrol and CHP’s Air Support Unit played an instrumental role in the speedy recovery of Dr. Gopal’s body.
No alcohol or drugs are suspected to be a factor in this collision. The investigation is ongoing.
- Statement from the Fresno County Sheriff's Office -
“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. 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.”
- Background on Dr. Venu Gopal -
Doctor Venu Gopal served as the Chief Forensic Pathologist for the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. He began his career with Fresno County in 1992. He received his medical license after graduating from Bangalore Medical University, Kamataka State, India. He came to the United States in the 80s and completed his residency in pathology at St. Vincent’s Medical Center of Richmond, Staten Island, NY.
Doctor Gopal was well-known throughout the medical community and was considered a leading authority in his field. He was the co-chair for the PDRC (Pediatric Death Review Committee), a member of the Traumatic Audit Committee and Elder Abuse Committee. He taught anatomy, physiology and forensic aspects of an autopsy to paramedics, nurses, anatomy students, criminology students and medical assistants. He periodically hosted Emergency Room doctors during their residency for their forensic training requirements.
On average, Fresno County has 7,500 deaths per year. Of those, roughly 4,000 are reported to the Coroner’s Office. This produces an average of 1,000 death investigations which require a doctor’s exam. Doctor Gopal’s work ethic is unmatched. It was not uncommon for him to work seven days a week for months at a time. He contributed to Fresno County Sheriff’s Office mission through exceptional dedication, initiative, passion, motivation and the high level of service he provided to the citizens of Fresno County.
In 2020, Dr. Gopal was honored as being the Sheriff’s Office Employee of the Year. During the height of the pandemic, he served as the Coroner Office’s lone forensic pathologist because our other forensic pathologist retired at the end of 2019. Dr. Gopal performed approximately 350 autopsies and 500 external exams during 2020 alone.
Doctor Gopal was also very involved in his community. He dedicated a large portion of his free time to his temple and held a position within the temple that required his daily involvement. His hard work and dedication to his profession and the community will always serve as an example for others to follow.
He is survived by his wife and two children.
Public Memorial Service for Chief Forensic Pathologist Venu Gopal
Friday, September 9, 2022
Cross City Christian Church
2777 E Nees Ave.
Fresno, CA 93722
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