Crash reconstruction specialist says Baumann was the driver
A crash reconstruction specialist with the Wisconsin State Patrol, said his analysis of the crash points to Ashley Baumann as the driver of a vehicle that crashed June 6, 2012, killing two of the passengers.
Baumann is on trial in connection to the crash that killed Jessica Hartwig and Misty Glisch and seriously injured Baumann and Jerrica Woller.
According to Trooper Thomas Erdmann, data from the vehicle’s airbag control module indicated the vehicle’s speed at 96 mph five seconds before the airbag deployed. The vehicle swerved toward the right shoulder, entered the ditch and went into a barrel roll. Because the vehicle rolled in a dirt field, Erdmann said it is difficult to say how many times it rolled.
Based on where the occupants ended up, Erdmann said he was able to determine their seating in the vehicle.
“At the time of the crash, Jerrica Woller was in the right rear with her seatbelt on, Misty Glisch was in the left rear with her seatbelt on, Jessica Hartwig was in the front passenger seat unbelted and Ashley Baumann was in the driver’s seat unbelted,” Erdmann said.
Erdmann said he would expect the driver to be ejected last in this type of crash. Baumann was found nine feet beyond the vehicle’s final resting place, indicating she was ejected right before the vehicle stopped.
At no point during a barrel roll are the passenger side occupants thrown to the driver side of the vehicle, he said. Centrifugal force will push the occupants to the outside of the vehicle. Nor is it possible for a person to move from the back seat to the front seat during a barrel roll.
A fabric transfer from Glisch’s shirt to the rear passenger side seatbelt made it very easy to place her in the vehicle, Erdmann said. A seatbelt mark on her body confirmed her placement in the vehicle, he added. The seatbelt must have caught her initially, but then the latch was opened somehow during the crash and she was ejected, Erdmann said. Her body was found 86 feet from the vehicle’s final resting place.
“You don’t see people get ejected out of a vehicle that have their seatbelt on,” Erdmann said. “She must have hit the latch or the other back seat passenger did during the crash sequence.”
Woller, who Erdmann said was the other seatbelted passenger, remained in the vehicle.
As the front seat passenger, Jessica Hartwig would have been ejected shortly after the passenger side of the vehicle made initial contact with the ground, Erdmann said. Her body was found nine feet from the vehicle’s final resting place.
The driver’s side windows remained intact while the passenger side windows and the rear window were busted out at the point of initial impact. Because both of the front seat occupants would have been ejected through the passenger side window, the passenger would have been ejected first, Erdmann said.
The airbag module also records front seatbelt usage, and neither were being worn, Erdmann said.
There was no blood or other DNA evidence on either of the front airbags. Erdmann said he didn’t swab the steering wheel because touch DNA can be inconclusive.
Wausau police officer Paul Piskoty testified earlier Wednesday afternoon that he was asked by Merrill police to take a blood sample from Baumann at Aspirus Wausau Hospital a few hours after the accident. He also spoke with Jerrica Woller, who had also been transferred to Aspirus, and collected the clothing of both women.
During cross examination, defense attorney Wright Laufenberg played the recording of the conversation Piskoty had with Woller. Woller tells Piskoty that they were drinking at the Dugout Bar in Merrill and the last thing she remembers is leaving the bar at closing time. Woller said Baumann was driving, Glisch was in the driver’s side back seat, Hartwig was in the front passenger seat and she was in the rear passenger seat.
Defense attorney Wright Laufenberg continually asked about a can cooler that was in Woller’s possessions at the hospital. Laufenberg maintained that Woller asked Piskoty to leave the can cooler. On the recording, it is not clear whether Woller asks about the can cooler, but Piskoty does tell her he is leaving it behind.
Piskoty said the can cooler was in a bag with Woller’s belongings. As it did not fit the criteria of what Merrill police asked him to collect, he did not take it, he added.
The significance of the can cooler is not yet clear.
The defense will resume cross examination of Erdmann on Thursday morning.