Specialists testify in car crash trial

2013-02-22T14:00:00Z 2013-02-23T22:43:25Z Specialists testify in car crash trialBy JEFF REINITZ, jeff.reinitz@wcfcourier.com Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

WATERLOO, Iowa --- Jarvis Boggs sustained about 700 to 800 pounds of force when a Waterloo squad car collided with his car in 2008, an expert in biomechanical engineering told jurors hearing Boggs' lawsuit against the city Thursday.

Mariusz Ziejewski, of the University of North Dakota's College of Engineering, said the Ford Interceptor police car struck the front passenger side of Boggs's Chevrolet Caprice at about a 90-degree angle, and Boggs went sideways inside the vehicle.

He pointed to photographs of the Caprice's damaged passenger door armrest as the likely point of impact for Boggs' head. He said the forces involved in the crash were consistent with the broken neck Boggs sustained.

Officer Dustin Yates was headed north on East First Street going to a call when his cruiser collided with Boggs' car at the Mulberry Street intersection. The question of who had a red light is in dispute and will be up to the jury to decide.

After the initial impact, the Caprice went into reverse and went back across the intersection before striking a porch.

Ziejewski said it was his opinion that the car began backing when the gear shift was accidently bumped during the crash. He said traveled backward at about 5 mph, and the collision with the porch wouldn't have had enough force to injure Boggs seriously.

Ziejewski's study of the crash included purchasing a similar Caprice for testing and using a person of Boggs' height and weight to examine his positioning in the car.

On Wednesday, Dr. Stuart King, a rehabilitation specialist, told the jury that Boggs' spinal cord was injured, and he has no control of his arms or legs. He said his condition will not improve.

"He has healed as best he can at this point," King said.

Boggs had two surgeries to fuse three vertebrae and straighten his spine.

Boggs' arms and legs sometimes move on their own, and he takes medication to suppress it, King said. He said Boggs has no control over his bladder or bowels and had been on a ventilator to help him breathe after the crash. He has since learned to breathe on his own but isn't capable of coughing or sneezing and requires an assistant to suction mucus to clear his airway, King said.

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