Ritchie Valens's Death Certificate
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Dated 3 February 1959
Immediate cause of death is listed as "(a) Gross trauma to brain due to (b) Crash of airplane." Other significant conditions are described as "Multiple fractures, left foream and both legs." Nature of injury: "Thrown from plane when it crashed to earth."
"Body shipped by rail to Noble Funeral Chapel, San Fernando, California, by Ward Funeral Home, Clear Lake, Ia."
"The body of Richard Valenzuela was clothed in a black wool cloth overcoat containing a lable "Haris & Drank, Los Angeles, Cal.", a black wool cloth suit containing inside the coat lable "Sobel's, San Fernando, Cal.", a white shirt and underclothing. On the volar surface of the right forearm was a dark tattoo of initials "R.V." The head was badly crushed and deformed, the calvarium region wide open and the brain tissue almost completely eviscerated; the right side of the face was crushed and flattened and the right eye socket eviscerated. The facial features were not identifiable. There was marked deformity of the left forearm due to fracture. a 1-inch laceration on the dorsum of the left hand at its junction with the little finger. The left upper femur had marked deformity with fracture while the right tibia showed a compound fracture. There were two shallow lacerations in the modial mid-left shin region. Internal injuries were not appraised because autopsy was not done. Personal effects are listed on a separate sheet in this report.
Fingerprints were taken of the deceased for purposes of identification."
Ralph E. Smiley, MD