I-90 crash that killed trooper: Defense digs in, says driver swerved to avoid 3rd car and hit brakes

DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Showing pictures from before, during, and after the 2016 accident that killed trooper Kenneth Velez, an accident reconstructionist with the Ohio State Highway Patrol told a jury Friday that Joshua Gaspar was speeding and following a car too closely before the crash.

The accident reconstructionist said Velez was in a relatively safe part of the highway, on the berm, as he did traffic enforcement outside of his car. He said Velez followed OSHP and federal regulations while he was out of his car.

The reconstructionist, also a trooper with the OSHP, said that the fact that Velez was a fellow trooper did not sway him at all in his assessment of the accident scene.

Velez was hit and killed in the middle of Interstate 90 in September.

The reconstructionist showed the jury still pictures of Velez before the crash taken from his dashcam. The same dashcam also showed pictures of Velez being thrown into the air immediately after being hit.

Velez's family left the courtroom while the reconstructionist showed the graphic photos of Velez immediately after the crash.

Gaspar kept his head down as the expert testified.

The reconstructionist also showed the jury pictures of Velez's personal things strewn across the highway. Velez's cellphone and an arm of his sunglasses came to rest on the sunroof of Gaspar's car, and one of his personal items was found 150 feet away from the scene of the impact.

The reconstructionist said that Gaspar hit Velez at more than 50 mph, and was initially was traveling between 62 and 64 miles per hour in a 60 mph zone before hitting the brakes.

Gaspar's defense attorney, Jon Sinn, said that his client swerved to avoid hitting the car in front of him. Sinn said the car in front of his client had hit the brakes. Sinn said Gaspar swerved, hit trooper Velez and eventually skidded to a stop.

"At the time, my client's car came in contact with the trooper, my client was jammed on the brakes," Sinn said. "And is there anything more he could have been doing to slow that car down than what he was doing?"

The expert said no.

Gaspar had methadone in his system -- which is used to treat an opiate addiction -- that had been administered by a doctor. The prosecution has said that impaired Gaspar's ability to drive. The defense disagrees. Soon it will be up to the jury to decide.

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