Collision destroyed much of Ashland dispatcher's car
When dispatcher Karen Greenstein's car was hit by a wrong-way driver on Interstate 5, the impact sheared away the roof, the driver's side of her vehicle and her seat.
Her seatbelt buckle was still fastened, but the seatbelt itself was torn away.
Greenstein's body came to rest about 30 feet from her car, according to Oregon State Police Senior Trooper Jeff Walker, a collision reconstructionist who investigated the 3 a.m. crash on March 27, 2014.
She had been driving south on I-5 when she was struck near Phoenix by a van traveling north.
Jurors listened and watched intently Tuesday as Walker testified and crash-scene images were shown during the first day of Richard Webster Scott's manslaughter and drunken-driving trial in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Scott, 45, of Grants Pass, looked away from the images, often resting his head on his arms, during much of Walker's testimony.
Viewed from the passenger side, Greenstein's Honda Civic looked largely intact. But photos of the driver's side showed what looked like a dollhouse-style cut-away model of a car with one side and the roof swept off by the force of the collision with the Dodge Caravan van.
At less than nine feet from the impact site, Greenstein's car was stopped almost in its tracks, while the van — which sustained heavy front-end damage — went spinning like a top 277 feet down I-5, according to Walker's testimony.
The left-front quarter panel of Greenstein's car was found embedded in the van, he said.
Scott had been drinking the night of the crash, according to other witnesses.
A receipt and video from a Cave Junction convenience store showed him buying a six-pack of Budweiser bottles at 1 a.m. and having a friendly but expletive-laced conversation with another customer.
An open bottle of beer was found on the floor of the van near the passenger seat, and two empty beer bottles and an empty 25-ounce beer can were found in the rear of the van, according to OSP investigators.
OSP Detective Brendan Quirke responded to the scene of the collision, where he found Scott trapped inside the damaged van and being extricated by emergency responders. When Scott was loaded into the back of an ambulance, Quirke said he smelled a strong odor of alcohol.
"As I got closer, I could tell the alcohol was coming from his breath," Quirke testified.
Quirke said Greenstein's car was so far away from the van he had trouble finding it when he arrived. Once he saw the car, it was so damaged he at first had difficulty identifying what type of car it was.
Greenstein was lying deceased at the scene, he said.
William Matson, who is now retired but was working as a senior trooper for OSP at the time of the crash, was sent to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, where Scott was being treated in the emergency room.
Scott's breath smelled of alcohol, he had slurred speech, he was exhibiting mood swings while talking to hospital workers and he had bloodshot, watery eyes, Matson testified.
"I thought he was pretty drunk," Matson said.
A blood alcohol level for Scott at the time was not immediately available.
Scott's trial is expected to continue Wednesday and Thursday.
Scott had several court-appointed defense lawyers dismissed from his case and was sent to the Oregon State Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation before being brought back to the Jackson County Jail while awaiting his trial. He is now being represented by court-appointed defense lawyer Mark Hendershott.
On Friday, Scott tried to have Hendershott removed from his case, and he also sought a change of venue out of Jackson County, citing negative pretrial publicity and complaints he has against local officials. Both his motions were denied.
An Ashland resident, Greenstein was a longtime dispatcher for Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon and had been named ECSO's Dispatcher of the Year in 2011. More than 500 people, including police officers, attended her memorial service.
Greenstein's family has a pending civil case against Scott and Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services. The case alleges that DMV should not have issued a driver's license to Scott because he had a suspended or revoked license in California for alcohol-related offenses.