TS - Officer testifies about 299 crash at prelim

Officer testifies about 299 crash at prelim
Officer testifies about 299 crash at prelim

A traffic officer who testified at a Tuesday preliminary hearing for two men accused of causing an October wreck that ended the life of a 9-year-old girl, described the series of events leading up to the collision.

On Oct. 8, three days after the collision that seriously injured Debra Quigley, and killed 9-year-old daughter Nicole, California Highway Patrol Officer Mike Barry interviewed Brittany Ferris, a passenger inside the vehicle driven by Anthony Flores.

At the Tuesday preliminary hearing, Barry testified Ferris told him she was riding in the passenger seat with her boyfriend, Flores, on Oct. 6 -- the day of the collision.

According to Barry, Ferris said she and Flores had driven to Oroville in Flores' Ford Mustang, and had passed through Blue Lake on State Route 299 when a blue Pontiac passed them driving at a dangerously high rate of speed.

Flores, she said, sped up to catch the Pontiac, which appeared to have been driven by a white male, when the Pontiac suddenly slowed in the right traffic lane.

Barry testified Ferris told him the Pontiac and the Mustang began driving side by side toward Arcata on Highway 299, accelerating together.

Evidence technicians later determined the vehicles were traveling at speeds estimated to be around 90-100 mph.
As the two vehicles drove side by side, they approached a Chevrolet Tahoe driving the same direction ahead of them in the slow lane.

The Mustang approached the SUV on the left, and began closing the gap to pass.

At that time, Ferris told Barry that the Pontiac, which was still traveling in the slow lane, suddenly swerved into the fast lane, possibly to pass the Tahoe. The Pontiac clipped the SUV, sending it rolling off the right side of the road and into a utility pole, while the Pontiac flipped into the air.

Ferris told Barry the Pontiac flipped high enough to pass over the Mustang's hood, clipping it lightly before rolling into the median.

Flores, driving the Mustang, “didn't come to a stop,” Barry testified. “After he started to slow down, he was yelled at from the back seat and continued.”

The Mustang was not located until days later when after an extensive search a freshly spray painted black Mustang was located.

The night of the collision, CHP Sgt. Hal Rosendahl arrived at a hospital to find 31-year-old Jason Whitmill smoking a cigarette outside. Whitmill, who investigators later alleged was the driver of the Pontiac involved in the collision, told Rosendahl his wife, Cheri Marcelli, had been driving his vehicle at the time of the collision.

”He was pretty much putting the blame for this on the other car -- the Mustang,” Rosendahl said. “He was saying the Mustang (occupants were) harassing his wife while she was driving.”

Marcelli was called to testify at the preliminary hearing Tuesday. Although she appeared in court, Marcelli declined to take the stand, and was dismissed by Judge Bruce Watson.

The preliminary hearing is set to continue today following a hearing, scheduled to discuss whether Marcelli's testimony will be admissible at the hearing.

Sean Garmire can be reached at 441-0514 or sgarmire@times-standard.com.
Sean Garmire/The Times-Standard
Posted: 03/11/2009 01:17:00 AM PDT
Whitmill and Flores trial date delayed another month 08/04/2009
Whitmill, Flores take District Attorney's deal 12/05/2009
Jury selection begins in trial of Whitmill, Flores 11/23/2009
Whitmill, Flores trial to proceed 11/10/2009
Motion denied to suppress blood sample in Whitmill case 11/06/2009
Whitmill faces murder charge for alleged role in crash 10/15/2008
Quigley family, friends remember 9-year-old Nicole 10/06/09
Nearly one year ago 10/01/2009
Case surrounding fatal crash on Highway 299 delayed 09/15/2009
Too many delays 9/10/09
Legal maneuvers slow case of men charged in 9-year-old's death 09/01/2009
Whitmill and Flores trial date delayed another month 08/04/2009
Evidence, charges unchanged against Whitmill 07/17/2009
Evidence for second degree murder charge? 06/19/2009
Thinking of the Quigleys 05/29/2009
Remember Nicole 05/08/2009
Looking forward: Quigley family watches and waits as case continues 05/17/2009
Defendants in 299 wreck plead not guilty 03/28/2009
Judge holds Whitmill, Flores to answer for 299 wreck 03/14/2009
Wife refuses to testify against husband at preliminary hearing 03/13/2009
Investigator testifies suspect in fatal crash changed story 03/12/2009
Officer testifies about 299 crash at prelim 03/11/2009
Preliminary hearing over Highway 299 wreck continues 03/10/2009
Superior Court delays hearing in 299 crash case 02/11/2009
Broken system 01/23/2009

Hug your children 12/03/2008
Vehicular manslaughter suspect has extensive criminal history 11/13/2008
Whitmill-Flores hearing continued 11/06/2008
Street race case waiting on CHP reports 10/23/2008
Authorities seek Mustang passenger for questioning 10/17/2008
Court document: Flores tried to 'subvert' investigation 10/16/08
Whitmill faces murder charge for alleged role in crash 10/15/2008
Authorities arrest driver of Mustang 10/10/2008
New driver named in fatal collision 10/09/2008
Search continues for other driver in fatal crash 10/08/2008
◼ ER Parolee named as driver in fatal collision
◼ TS New driver identified in fatal crash
◼ TS New driver named in fatal collision
TS Update: ☛ TS Police still looking for driver
◼ TS Driver sought: Suspected drag race on 299 results in fatal crash

Note: there were other articles in the Eureka reporter, but none are available online anymore.