Local News

Monday, Aug 26 2013 02:24 PM

Family: Man found dead in field 'the best guy'

BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

Family and friends of truck driver Todd Chance, 45, are waiting for a Kern County Sheriff's Office investigation to explain why his body was found in a field northwest of Bakersfield Sunday morning.

"This is a great loss for everybody. He was the best guy, the best husband, the best dad," said stepdaughter Jessica Bullman, 23. "He's been in my life since I was 4. He was my dad and he was everything."

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She said her mother, Leslie Chance, was not able to speak to the media.

Kern County Sheriff's Office spokesman Ray Pruitt said investigators are hunting for clues as to why he left his southwest Bakersfield home Sunday and was found "no more than two or three hours later" in a field 16 miles away.

Pruitt said Chance told family where he was going before he left home in his black 2011 Ford Mustang, though sheriff's officials are withholding the details of when he left and where he was going.

But Chance never made it to his destination, Pruitt said.

"We're still trying to determine what happened after he left his home," he said.

Farmworkers found Chance's body at about 9:30 a.m. Sunday in a field off a dirt section of Noriega Road near Enos Lane just south of the Rio Bravo-Greeley Unified School District offices.

It hadn't been there long.

The farmworkers, Pruitt said, "had checked the field at 7:30 a.m. The body wasn't there."

When they went back to check the field again, they found Chance.

Pruitt said Chance was suffering from at least one apparent gunshot wound, though the cause of death is awaiting the results of an autopsy that was expected to be conducted this week.

Chance's Mustang, was found later on Sunday in a neighborhood north of Panama Lane near Highway 99 -- five miles from his home in the Park Avenue neighborhood near Old River Road.

His body was found 20 miles away from where his car was found.

"I'm not aware of the condition of the vehicle," Pruitt said. "It is my understanding It was just parked in a neighborhood."

David Cotter of Con-way Freight's Bakersfield office confirmed that Chance was a driver for the company and was not working on Sunday.

"It's a loss for all of us," Cotter said.

He referred all other questions about Chance to his family.

Bullman declined to talk much about Chance's life, or what might have happened on Sunday.

But she couldn't say enough nice things about him.

"He was the best guy ever," Bullman said.

Anyone with information on Chance's death is asked to call the sheriff's office at 661-861-3110 or Secret Witness at 661-322-4040. Anonymous text tips can be sent to TIP411 (847411). Just type the keyword "KCSO" prior to the message.

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