Man who died in US-23 crash was son of murder victim Dawn Fital
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, 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.”
AnnArbor.com was not able to reach the Fital family Tuesday morning. No funeral information was immediately available Tuesday.