*Only recently had Aijalon Gomes left Boston to live in San Diego. Sounds like a man looking for a change, not like one who would travel so far…to commit suicide.
But an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer that was driving west on Pacific Highway near Sea World Drive about 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday saw a man, later identified as Gomes, burning…alive. According to Lt. Todd Griffin, the officer did stop to help, but Gomes died from his injuries before he could reach the hospital.
Now back to the suicide part. This isn’t a fact by any means, its just a potential part of the mysterious equation. The other part being examined is that the fire was an accident.
But the reason suicide even comes into the picture is this. According to Jacqueline McCarthy, Gomes’ mother, her son, Aijalon, is the same man who was traumatized by being incarcerated in a North Korean jail after he illegally walked across a frozen stretch of the Tumen River in January 2010.
He was apprehended by border guards, jailed and sentenced to eight years of hard labor. He was also fined $700,000.
McCarthy says her son was so messed up by the experience that he attempted suicide…several times.
Gomes, 38, was a teacher at one point. The officer found him in a dirt field near Fiesta Island.
“I know it affected him,” McCarthy said of her son’s incarceration.
In comes former president, Jimmy Carter, who assisted in negotiating Gomes’ release in 2010.
McCarthy described her son as a “beautiful,” and “selfless” person.
The office of the Medical Examiner is set to officially determine Gomes’ cause of death. Authorities do not believe it is a homicide.