CHP officer was not in the road when he was hit, expert says

The CHP officer killed in a car crash last year south of Paso Robles was standing next to his patrol car on the side of the road when impact took place, an agency investigator testified Wednesday in the trial of the woman accused of causing the wreck.

CHP Officer Scott H. Peterson said, in his opinion, that’s where Officer Brett Oswald stood by his patrol car parked on the side of South River Road when Kaylee Ann Weisenberg struck him June 27, 2010.

Weisenberg, 23, has pleaded not guilty to four charges, including second-degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Peterson testified that evidence such as Oswald’s boot marks on the hood of Weisenberg’s car and a shattered windshield indicated that the officer jumped but couldn’t avoid the oncoming vehicle that threw him several feet onto a nearby hillside.

The investigator also testified that some of Oswald’s tissue and scuffs possibly from part of his uniform were left on his patrol car, which showed severe damage from the crash.

“In my opinion, he was standing right next to his vehicle when he was struck,” Peterson testified during questioning by prosecutors.

Peterson pointed out details in photos of the accident scene that showed Oswald’s patrol car parked on the side of the road, indicating that Weisenberg crossed over the double yellow lines before the crash occurred.

Weisenberg and members of Oswald’s family who attended the trial Wednesday were in tears during moments of the graphic testimony.

The trial resumes today at 10:30 a.m. before Judge John Trice.

Wednesday’s testimony was significant because defense attorney Thomas McCormick said in his opening statements that Oswald was standing in the middle of the road when he was struck.

Oswald was responding to an unoccupied car parked in a potentially dangerous spot on the road.

Weisenberg is accused of being high on methamphetamine at the time of the incident. But McCormick has countered that evidence will show his client wasn’t driving under the influence, citing a CHP investigator’s examination of her after the crash.

Peterson said his reconstruction of the accident, based on information such as the nature and length of the skid marks on the road and the vehicle’s stopping point, led him to the conclusion that Weisenberg had been driving 80 mph in a 55 mph zone.

The investigator also said that the impact knocked Oswald out of one of his boots, which landed more than 200 feet away from the patrol car.

After the incident, CHP officials used a radar gun hidden behind a tree to monitor drivers’ speeds along South River Road over five days. Of the 225 cars that drove the road, 85 percent drove 52 mph or less, with the fastest traveling at 67 mph, Peterson said.

McCormick is expected to present evidence next week, using an expert of his own in vehicular accident reconstruction.

His expert likely will present a different view of the crash — presumably a slower speed estimate and a different location of impact on the road.

Doctors at Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton attempted to save Oswald’s life, briefly seeing a heartbeat.

But after about 90 minutes of treatment, he died of blunt force trauma, medical witnesses testified.