Questions surround death of man found in creek

Posted: February 21, 2013

THE DAY David Taundi disappeared, it was clear something had gone horribly wrong.

His car had run off the road on Henry Avenue near Philadelphia University in East Falls early Dec. 15, hitting a tree before bursting into flames. A witness told police that a man climbed out of the driver's side, walked away from the wreckage and disappeared into the predawn darkness.

Taundi's father, Josiya Taundi, mounted a massive search, publicizing missing-person fliers on social media and asking police to mobilize helicopters and search dogs.

On Saturday, authorities pulled a body from the Wissahickon Creek that they later identified as Taundi's. A Bank of America executive, Taundi, 33, also worked for the Alzheimer's Association's Delaware Valley chapter.

Now, his loved ones remain haunted by the mystery of how David Taundi ended up in the creek and whether he could have been saved.

"It's the day I've waited for and dreaded at the same time," said Claire Day, a close friend and the association's vice president of constituent services. "You don't want to go on not knowing, but knowing there's no hope starts your grieving in a different way."

Jeff Moran, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office, said autopsy results are not final. The investigating detective couldn't be reached, and a police spokeswoman said Tuesday that she had no new information to release.

Taundi's friends described him as a friendly man who had a wide smile for everyone. He was a Zimbabwe native who came to Philadelphia about 10 years ago to pursue a college degree, Day said.

He had juggled his undergraduate studies with a full-time job in the finance department of the Alzheimer's Association's local chapter but then reduced his hours when he decided to pursue a master's degree in business, Day said. Although he had no personal connection to Alzheimer's disease, he remained committed to the association's mission, she said.

His colleagues were "devastated" by news of his death, the group's president and chief executive, Wendy L. Campbell, said in a prepared statement.

"David was more than just an employee to the association," Campbell said. "He was an honorable, considerate gentleman with an easy smile who believed deeply in our mission. David volunteered with several of our committees, including Chocolate Symphony and Junior Committees, outside of his working hours at the association and Bank of America."

Josiya Taundi declined to comment Tuesday, saying he was busy handling his son's affairs and talking with relatives.

On Twitter: @DanaDiFilippo


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