Man dead along freeway near Yoncalla was AHS grad

A man found dead on the northbound shoulder of Interstate 5 near Yoncalla early Monday was an Ashland High School graduate, officials said Tuesday.

Jesse Golden, 26, was found underneath the Cox Road overpass at 3:05 a.m., and investigators believe he may have fallen or jumped from the overpass, according to Oregon State Police. There is no evidence that Golden, a Eugene resident, was struck by a vehicle or that anyone else was involved in his death, police said.

"There's nothing to indicate right now that it's related to any type of a crime," said OSP Lt. Gregg Hastings.

Ashland High School Principal Michelle Zundel confirmed Tuesday that Golden graduated from the school in 2002.

A commercial truck driver traveling northbound on I-5, near milepost 156, found Golden's body in the shoulder of the freeway, near a green 1994 Honda Accord, registered to a relative of Golden, Hastings said.

The truck driver did not have cell phone service but 10 minutes later he flagged down another motorist who was able to call 9-1-1.

OSP troopers from the Roseburg Area Command office and North Douglas Fire Department personnel responded. One freeway lane was blocked for about three hours while troopers and the Douglas County medical examiner investigated the scene.

Golden's next of kin have been notified and the medical examiner is planning an autopsy to help confirm the cause of his death. Golden is not related to former Jackson County Commissioner Jeff Golden, Hastings said.

The results of the autopsy are expected to be released later this week, Hastings said.

Golden attended the University of Oregon from 2002 to 2009 and studied architecture but did not receive a degree, said Jim Barlow, spokesman for the university.

He worked as a server at the Keystone Café, a vegan restaurant in Eugene, until the time of his death, said server Rachel Whitney. Golden also helped organize music events and parties at the café, she said.

"He was really self-disciplined, really driven and inspired and full of energy," she said.

Golden had taken Sept. 1-19 off from work to go on vacation, Whitney said. She said she was shocked to learn he had died.

"I'm completely in shock," she said. "It's bizarre. I don't understand why or how he was out there."

Anyone with information on where Golden was traveling from or who saw the Honda stopped on the right northbound shoulder near the Cox Road overpass before 3 a.m. is asked to call OSP at 541-776-6111.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or

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