Opening Detail Moments Before Deadly Crash | News, Sports, Jobs

Mayville – Was it reckless driving due to drug damage, or did a seemingly escalating series of events end in a tragic accident?

Heather Capell’s actions culminated in the head-on crash that killed a Cattaraugus County man on the morning of July 1, 2021, at the heart of a trial that began Monday morning in Chautauqua County Court.

According to the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office, Capel crashed into another vehicle on Interstate 86 shortly after 5 a.m. when she drove a 2009 Subaru Forester in the wrong direction for several minutes. miles, resulting in damage to Capel. The head-on crash killed 52-year-old Bradley Wakefield. Drive to work that morning.

“The evidence will show that the defendant’s reckless conduct and damage resulted in the death of Mr. Wakefield,” Assistant District Attorney Erik Bentley told jurors in his opening statement Monday.

Capel, of Brunswick, Georgia, is on trial for second-degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter and driving with impaired ability due to a drug/alcohol combination. The trial is taking place before County Court Judge David Foley.

Chautauqua County public defender and Capel’s attorney Ned Barone called the crash a “terrible accident” Involves people who are not in the area who get lost when it gets dark.

“They tried to paint her with a rough brush, tried to say she was damaged, caused her to go down (Interstate 86) the wrong way, and she acted recklessly. In fact, they really don’t know,” Barron said.

In his comments after the trial began, he added, “It’s been raining and it’s foggy. All of these factors can lead to a tragic accident. That’s what happened, a tragic accident.”

visit friends

Capel left her Georgia home early in the afternoon and was heading north 36 hours before the collision on I-86 in the town of North Harmony.

The plan was to pick up a friend in Buffalo and bring her back to Georgia, stopping to visit her grandfather on the way.

According to Bentley in her opening remarks, Capel took a dose of Adelaar before meeting her friend on June 30, 2021. That night, he said, Capel smoked marijuana, was tired and wanted to relax at the hotel, but ended up at the Buffalo strip club where her friend worked.

Capel reportedly waited for hours at the club, waiting for her friend’s shift to end.

“She wasn’t idle during her time there,” Bentley told jurors. “Defendant said she didn’t drink, but someone did give her something. Defendant took methamphetamine at the club. How do we know? We know it because she told us.”

Capel later told investigators she was nervous at the club and her heart was beating fast. The Georgia woman decided to leave her friend on an 18-hour journey home.

“She’s tired,” Bentley said. “She didn’t wait any longer. She had no plans. The defendant had no instructions.”

Reckless driving or lost?

Barone said his client got lost after leaving her friend’s job in Buffalo. “She has a 10-year-old daughter coming home and she’s with her father,” He talked about Capel. “She came to pick up her friends. The whole trip was to pick up her friends.”

After leaving the Buffalo area, Capel was traveling south on Route 20 in Chautauqua County, the district attorney’s office said. Confused by the circumstances around the town of Ripley, she called her boyfriend and grandfather.

Capel, still confused, called 911

“She didn’t ask the nearest hotel or the police to help her, she asked for directions,” Bentley said.

He told jurors twice that the 911 operator advised Capel to continue on the road where she would eventually encounter Interstate 86.

“Defendant reached 86,” Bentley said. “She was supposed to turn right onto West 86, but she turned left in the wrong direction.”

On Monday, prosecutors had four witnesses who called 911 that morning to testify. Two of the witnesses encountered Capel in the westbound lane before the accident, while two other witnesses encountered the accident immediately after the accident.

The district attorney’s office believes Capel traveled about 9 1/2 miles from Sherman in the wrong direction before heading to Stowe. During that drive, she passed hundreds of retroreflectors and road signs as well as oncoming headlights.

“While going the wrong way, sleep deprived, paranoid and impaired, she decided to add something else to the mess she created,” Bentley said. “The defendant was talking on his mobile phone when the accident occurred.”

Barone, however, said Capel’s behavior after entering the interstate could hardly describe a paranoid or damaged person.

For one thing, none of the drivers who called 911 reported driver instability, he noted. In fact, Barone said, Capel was seen driving at a reasonable speed on the right side of the westbound lane with his headlights on — as if on a two-way road. So encountering oncoming headlights doesn’t seem to be uncommon, he said.

Barone also plans to play tapes of calls between Capell and 911 dispatchers to jurors. He said the conversation highlighted that Capel was lost and was trying to find his way back south on Interstate 90.

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