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Posted on Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

Man who died in US-23 crash was son of murder victim Dawn Fital

By Kyle Feldscher

This story has been updated with comments from another one of Samuel Fital's friends.

The man who died after his car rear-ended a semi truck on US-23 Monday night was the son of Dawn Fital, who was murdered in Pittsfield Township in June 2011.


Samuel Fital

Facebook photo

Samuel Fital, 21, died at the scene of the crash at 10 p.m. Monday on US-23 near Willis Road in York Township. The car Fital was driving struck the rear of a semi truck on northbound US-23, Michigan State Police said. The truck was stopped as a part of a traffic backup caused by an earlier crash on US-23 south of Michigan Avenue.

Erica Shimmel, a Dearborn Heights resident who grew up with Samuel Fital in Milan and went to school with him, said he was a close friend she could always turn to.

“He got to live his life to the fullest,” she said. “He was always someone you wanted to hang out with, always there for you when you were having a bad day.”

Samuel Fital’s death marks another tragedy for the Fital family. Gregory Noack murdered Dawn Fital, Samuel’s mother, on June 13, 2011, in the Pittsfield Township apartment they shared with Fital's ex-husband, Patrick Fital.

Noack pleaded guilty to second-degree murder charges, along with five other felony charges in May. He’s serving up to 70 years in prison.

Police said Samuel Fital was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash and alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the incident. He was the only person in the vehicle.

Shimmel said Samuel Fital was very close with his family and had been through a lot since Dawn Fital’s death. She choked up while speaking about him on the phone Tuesday morning.

“He was caring and funny and outgoing,” she said. “He wasn’t afraid to speak his mind.”

Amanda Enriquez was so close with Samuel Fital and his family she referred to him as her brother. She said she met Samuel when he was in kindergarten and was very close with the Fital family.

Enriquez said Samuel Fital worked security for the Wal-Mart store on Ellsworth Road and, like his mother, loved playing pool. She said he also enjoyed rock climbing, the arts, dancing and theater.

The Fital family gave Samuel Fital lots of support when he decided to have a sex change and she said he was “out and proud in school.” Samuel Fital was born a woman but had a sex change operation and identified as a man.

“He had lots of support for his choice to have a gender change,” Enriquez said. “There couldn’t have been a more supportive family.”

Samuel Fital is survived by his adoptive father Patrick Fital, his sisters Stephanie and Sara and his brother Sean.

Patrick Fital was a major influence in Samuel Fital’s life, Enriquez said. His generous and welcoming nature — Enriquez would often stay at the Fital residence — rubbed off on Samuel Fital, she said.

“He is a great man and he made their home feel like a home and feel safe,” she said. “He went above and beyond for his family. I believe that is where Samuel got his personality traits from, seeing his father and knowing you can love unconditionally.” was not able to reach the Fital family Tuesday morning. No funeral information was immediately available Tuesday.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 10:38 a.m.

For the record, coming from a fellow transgender individual as well as a close friend to Sam: Having supportive family and friends does not, I repeat: Does not mean that they were out as "trans" to everyone. Sam lived as male. He was male. He was "out" as male. He was more of a man than any other man I've ever had the joy of meeting. He came into this world to live his life happily, let him leave happily in the way he deserves to be respected. I am absolutely appalled that instead of including how wonderful of a man he was, Kyle devoted majority of this piece to his sex change operation. That operation has absolutely nothing to do with Sam as a person, friend, brother, son, grandson, or uncle. When other people pass, you do not bring up their medical background for the interest of others. This article is offensive, and completely uncalled for. Keep to the topic at hand, not stray from the subject of the article. Sam and his family should not be disrespected like this at all. Sam, I love you forever. You were my brother in more than one way. Rest in peace.


Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 9:31 a.m.

Another person has died on that stretch of US 23. That's the only point that sticks with me other than the victim was much appreciated by those who knew him. My sincere condolences to the friends and family of Samuel Fital. I'm very sorry that he's been added to the list of dead and injured on that stretch of US 23. US-23 (between Ann Arbor & Brighton): I remember many times when my safety was threatened just because I was driving (legally) on that stretch. Cows loose on the roadway, gasoline truck spewing gasoline from an unsecured hatch, cars unexpectedly spinning out of control and across the median into on-coming traffic, coming up suddenly from behind on stopped traffic, seeing wrecks of cars and trucks - which later were reported to have fatalities. Those are just the things I saw and experienced (and escaped) myself - during what amounted to a few minutes drive on my daily commutes. That was back in the Seventies: nothing has changed!! Now we've seen this double tragedy: a person who lost their mother to murder is then killed on that stretch of US-23. Personally, I think this should be further investigated: there's something wrong with that stretch of road!

Michael Bishop

Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 7:53 a.m.

Sam was a fun and amazing person to be around, I only had the honor of meeting him twice but there is one night I will never forget. That night was at BoyLesque when he got up on stage with a bunch of random people and starting dancing. I think I can speak for everyone when I say for those who knew him they where lucky to have such a amazing, outgoing and remarkable friend/ brother and loved one. He touched many hearts. My condolences go to his family and loved ones.


Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 5:43 a.m.

Please take note. ~Samuel Fital was born a woman but had a sex change operation and identified as a man.~ Not in quotations meaning not repeated from the exact words of others. But then ~"He had lots of support for his choice to have a gender change," "There couldn't have been a more supportive family." ~ Quoted. Factual words from some one who obviously knew Samuel and his family. It was probably to clear up all the bs chatter you all have turned into key points on his death. Shame on all of you. Want to know the key points. His family is grieving His friends have lost him He was a tender age This in all is a tragedy The unknowing should know the facts so that Dumb@$$'s don't slander, or harm his image. He was a wonderful Brother, Uncle, Friend and most of all Son. His family shouldn't have to read all your stupid comments about his choices so the editor and reporter felt it necessary to include this information to shut you all up! Samuel, Fital Family I am so sorry that these people must pick and probe into small details just to find something to be confrontational about. Just goes to show how they were raised and the manners they were taught when it comes to the unfortunate death of a Loved one. I ask that you please close this discussion so that Samuel may Rest In Piece and His family not have to endure such ignorance.


Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 1:40 a.m.

My thoughts and prayers go out to friends and family. Sam seems to have been a wonderful young man to his friend who spoke of him here. Nobody here has the right to judge his life as he was living it. RIP Sam.


Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 12:53 a.m.

i knew his mom dawn we shot together on the same team on a pool league she was a great player and a great friend and shocked to learn of her heart goes out to the family with the loss of sam may she rest in peace.


Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 12:54 a.m.

may he rest in peace


Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 12:37 a.m.

These kinds of accidents are happening more and more, and are not necessarily related to speeding or distracted driving. When there is construction or an accident causing a huge back-up on a big highway, cars approaching the stopped traffic even when driving the speed limit can't always tell the traffic is stopped until they are close to the stopped cars and trucks. I've been reading about more bad accidents and deaths caused by vehicles not stopping in time when approaching back-ups. Police should be putting cones on the shoulder or some kind of warning at the back of these back-ups to give some warning to approaching drivers. This accident is a tragedy for all concerned. --Jim


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 11:02 p.m.

What a shame.. At least they are together in heaven now.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 10:42 p.m.

Before everyone starts attacking Kyle for reporting on the issue of gender here, it's important to read the initial article Gender only becomes an issue in this story after this comment: " Nadie 10:49 AM on 11/27/2012. So sad. The family has been through so much. Sam (Samantha) was the daughter of Dawn Fital who was murdered over a year ago by her boyfriend." If you want to blame someone for making this public, blame Nadie. This story is simply tragic. My heart breaks for the family. May you find comfort in sweet memories. God's speed.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

Am I the only person that thinks the reference to his sex change operation are completely inappropriate? How is it okay to "out" a person in this circumstance? You have no idea if this was common knowledge. I am disgusted.

Terry Reilly

Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 3:21 a.m.

Well put. What is the point? Sam was a good guy who went through more than most of us will in our lives. RIP, Sam!

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 11:36 p.m.

PBQ- Please refer to Kyle's comment regarding this in our initial story on the accident. He has spoken to individuals close to Sam and has provided it as information to help clarify to readers.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 9:56 p.m.

The article says that he was out and proud at school, and his friends have mentioned his sex-change in comments on other articles, which indicates to me that this was common knowledge, he was already out, and his friends are perfectly comfortable with this fact being out there. I don't know him, so friends and family can correct me if I don't know what I'm talking about, but it seems like it'd be more disrespectful to his memory not to mention this fact. My condolences go out to Sam's family and friends -- it must be a rough couple of years for your family. You're all in my thoughts and prayers.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

Wow, how tragic. Alot for a family to deal with. Prayers for them.

music to my ear

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

so sorry to hear of another tragedy for the Fitals he was so young and just starting his new life out being happy,prayers to his family. in his mothers arms he will be .


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7:14 p.m.

Thank you Kyle Feldscher for respecting Samuel and his family in their loss. Thank you for wanting to know before just reporting. Thank you.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

My condolences to his family and friends. He passed way too soon, but is with his mother once again.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

This family has been through so much. My heart goes out to all that knew and loved them.