It was three days before Christmas when police found the young man along San Tomas Expressway in Campbell, apparently killed by a hit and run driver who left him in the dirt. Now, the family and friends of 24-year-old Jacksen Madsen are fighting to get answers. They’re not only grieving their loss, but angry at CHP investigators, whom they feel aren’t doing enough to find Jacksen’s killer.
“I can’t function. I can’t function not knowing what happened to him,” said his mother, Teri Madsen, as she broke down in tears. “It’s just all so overwhelming.”
The family is drowning in its struggle to get the answers it has been seeking for three weeks now. The Madsens said investigators won’t answer any of their questions, but CHP Lt. Les Bishop said it is top priority case for his San Jose-based team, adding that there are specially trained investigators who are working on the hit-and-run full-time. Bishop explained that the office has more than 400 investigations to deal with on average each month, but that fatalities and those with higher levels of severity have special investigators working on them. “We’re not trying to make things any worse for them. What we are trying to do is maintain the integrity of the investigation so that we can get proper closure on the situation.”
The response did little for the family, which said it’s more fired up than ever after hearing from Jacksen’s friends that he may have gotten into a bar fight, with a man he’d previously fought, at the last place he was seen that early morning of December 22 – “The Spot Downtown,” a bar in Campbell more than a mile from where he was found dead.
“If there was an altercation, it could change the whole face of things,” said Steve Madsen, Jacksen’s father. “Now, it’s not vehicular manslaughter, it could be a murder.”
Another issue plaguing them is the 9-1-1 call they say Campbell police confirmed came from Jacksen’s own cell phone that morning. Teri Madsen said an officer described the sounds as somebody “running and breathing hard.” It’s a tough scene that’s stuck in younger sister Paige Madsen’s mind.
“To know that he had a 9-1-1 call and from his cell phone, him huffing and puffing like he’s running from something – that’s the only thing I can think of. And it won’t get out of my mind.”
The family has been trying to get information on its own. Paige said it was her sister and mother who discovered that Jacksen’s driver’s license and debit card were still at “The Spot” and picked them up more than a week after he died. Steve Madsen, who’s in the middle of moving, has put his life in Sacramento on hold to make sure the investigation continues on and his family gets the answers it so desperately wants.
“He deserves to have justice. Somebody’s running around who hit him and left him cold in the dirt, lying there, and he deserves more than that. I don’t care what it takes. I’ll see that he get more than that. I don’t care what it takes.”
Friends are holding one final vigil at the memorial site at San Tomas Expressway and Budd Avenue at 10 a.m. Friday. They say the city has warned it will be clearing the growing pile of flowers, balloons, and candles sometime later that day.