Downriver Marine killed by suspected drunk driver in Texas

Downriver Marine killed by suspected drunk driver in Texas

Posted: Updated:
U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Donald Di Pietro was killed while riding his motorcycle in Texas. U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Donald Di Pietro was killed while riding his motorcycle in Texas.
WYANDOTTE, Mich. (WJBK) -

He was an American hero proudly serving as a member of the U.S. Marines for nine years, but his life was cut short not by war, but by a suspected drunk driver.

Staff Sergeant Donald Di Pietro a decorated Marine from Downriver, was killed Sunday riding his Victory High-Ball motorcycle while stationed in Texas.

He served tours in Iraq and Mexico.  Skilled in Spanish and Arabic, he had received commendations for participating in the capture of more than 500 criminals, and he helped capture what the government called high valued drug trafficking targets on the U.S.-Mexico border.

His father found two Marines at his door Sunday morning in Wyandotte.

"I opened the door.  I said, 'My son is dead, isn't he?'  And they said, 'Can we come in?'" said Donald Di Pietro.

The Marines explained that his son was off-duty and riding his motorcycle to meet his buddies at 7:30 p.m. in San Angelo, Texas where he was stationed.  A suspected drunk driver with no lights in a pickup pulled out in front of Di Pietro.  He was killed instantly at the age of 28.

The truck's driver, 65-year-old Malcolm McBurnett, is charged with intoxication manslaughter by vehicle.  He has previously had at least three other drunk driving convictions.

This was deja vu for the father, who also answered the door in 1971 when Marines notified his family that his brother, Bob, was killed in Vietnam at the age of 24.

"I was actually the one that answered the door at the time," he said.  "At that time they had a telegram in their hand, and they delivered it."

Friday afternoon, Michigan State Police and the Marines escorted Donald Di Pietro's body to Wyandotte for the funeral and burial on Monday.

"I was very proud of my son, and his grandfather was very proud of him," said the elder Di Pietro.

If McBurnett is convicted, he is looking at the possibility of 20 years in prison.

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