Driver in fatal Paso crash had suspended license, officer testifies

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comMay 23, 2013 

A Bakersfield man with a history of traffic offenses was driving with a suspended license last November when he plowed into a vehicle stopped at a construction site, killing the other driver, a California Highway Patrol officer testified Thursday.

Jerad Scott Cross, 32, appeared in San Luis Obispo Superior Court for a preliminary hearing, facing multiple charges related to the crash near Paso Robles on Nov. 7, 2012. In that incident, Cross’ Ford F-350 pickup truck slammed into a pickup driven by Richard Gamez, 45, of Clovis. Gamez was stopped behind a semitrailer at a Highway 46 construction site when his vehicle was struck. As a result of the collision, he suffered multiple blunt force trauma injuries, resulting in death, according to a pathologist report.

According to Ken Neumann, a sergeant with the CHP, Cross was driving with a suspended license at the time. Prior to the crash, Neumann testified, Cross had been cited for speeding five times and, additionally, had been caused three car crashes, one of which resulted in injury, since 2000. He’d also been arrested previously for driving under the influence and had his license previously suspended.

Police believe Cross, who had prescription drugs in his vehicle, was also under the influence when the crash near Paso Robles occurred.

According to court testimony, one motorist said he saw Cross speeding as he passed him over a double-yellow line two miles from the crash site. At the site, a construction employee, working as a flag man that day, tried to alert Cross as he approached the stopped vehicles. But as Cross continued to approach without slowing down, the employee, Shaun Ranney, ran for cover.

He estimated that Cross was driving approximately 65 mph before the crash.

Inside Cross’ vehicle, police found prescription drugs and drug paraphernalia, Neumann testified, including pill crushers, razor blades and spoons. After the accident, as Cross was being treated for a broken ankle at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, Neumann said, he didn’t appear to be in pain, a sign that he may have been on pain relievers.

Cross, who has pleaded not guilty, was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence resulting in injury, driving with a suspended license and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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