Family searches for answers after 18-year-old found dead under I-10 overpass after first date

HPD initially believed Jesslyn Zuniga died from suicide, but details about a nearby crash sparked a change in the investigation.
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The family of an 18-year-old who fell to her death over the weekend is desperately searching for answers as to how their daughter left their home to go out on a first date, and ended up dead.

Initially, police believed Jesslyn Zuniga died from suicide when she was found under the overpass of the East Freeway and Gregg Street around 3 a.m. on Sunday.

Jose Zuniga refuses to believe his daughter would intentionally jump off the overpass.

"We are honoring my daughter," Zuniga said. "She was a young, beautiful girl full of life. She would never jump off a bridge, she is full of life. She just graduated last year and it's not something she would do."

Zuniga said his daughter was picked up at their home early Saturday night to go out with a guy she was meeting for the first time, after talking for about a month, and some of her friends were joining.

He knew something was wrong when his daughter never returned home, so he searched the area with his wife and family, and started calling hospitals.

"First time and she didn't end up coming back home, she ended up dying," Zuniga said.

Police say a gray Dodge Ram pickup truck hit a barrier a few times and stopped on the shoulder of the freeway.

Witnesses told police a disturbance was heard, and a man was shouting. The man then fled the scene on foot. Later that night, the driver of the pickup truck went to Houston Police and told investigators he had been involved in the crash and a woman was thrown from the truck.

Now, the case is being investigated by the hit-and-run unit within the Houston Police Department. No charges have been filed.

It's not adding up for Zuniga, who is pleading with witnesses to come forward.

"If you saw anything, if you saw the wreck, or a struggle, please contact police, Zuniga said. "It would be a great help."

Anyone with information in this case is urged to contact the HPD Hit and Run Unit at 713-247-4072 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.
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