AMY ABELS
CRIMINAL TRIAL

See also: Amy Abels CFPD Report
See also:
Amy Abels Civil Trial Deposition

____________________________________________________________________________

(pages 19-42)

25 MR. WADDING: Thank you. The state would

20

1 call Amy Abels.

2 AMY MICHELLE ABELS,

3 called as a witness on behalf of the state, being first

4 duly sworn by the court, was examined and testified as

5 follows:

6 COURT: Please state your full name.

7 WITNESS: Amy Michelle Abels.

8 COURT: How do you spell your last name?

9 WITNESS: A-B-E-L-S.

10 COURT: Mr. Wadding?

11 MR. WADDING: Thank you, Your Honor.

12 DIRECT EXAMINATION

13 BY MR. WADDING:

14 Q. Ms. Abels, I'm going to ask you to speak up a

15 little bit. You're kind of soft spoken. Are you

16 employed?

17 A. Yes.

18 Q. And where are you employed?

19 A. For Dr. Perry Krieger.

20 Q. What do you do for him?

21 A. Optometrist's assistant.

22 Q. How long have you been employed there?

23 A. A little over a year.

24 Q. And how old -- how old are you?

25 A. Twenty-two.

21

1 Q. And I want to direct your attention to the

2 date of October 4th, 1996. Did you witness an automobile

3 crash on that day?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. And do you remember approximately about what

6 time that was?

7 A. It was about 11 o'clock at night.

8 Q. And do you remember where you were coming

9 from at the time that you observed the accident?

10 A. I was coming from my parents' house.

11 Q. And where do they live?

12 A. They live up by Cedar Falls High School in

13 Cedar Falls.

14 Q. And where was this accident that took place?

15 A. The intersection of Greenhill and Highway 58.

16 Q. And which way were you traveling?

17 A. I was traveling south on 58.

18 Q. Was this a common route for you to travel?

19 A. Yes.

20 Q. And was anyone with you at the time?

21 A. My son.

22 Q. How old is your son?

23 A. He was almost about three at the time.

24 Q. And prior to observing the crash, what --

25 could you describe what you were seeing? What drew your

22

1 attention to it?

2 A. I was approaching the intersection where I

3 was going to be turning. I noticed a vehicle coming down

4 Greenhill, and it appeared to me it was coming down fast,

5 you know, to be approaching that intersection. I was

6 slowing down because I was going to be turning onto

7 Greenhill.

8 Q. Now, which direction was this vehicle

9 traveling that you thought was going kind of fast?

10 A. They were traveling west.

11 Q. And what was the -- what would be the

12 intersection that precedes that, the intersection on

13 Greenhill and Highway 58? Do you understand what I'm

14 saying?

15 A. No. I'm sorry, I don't.

16 Q. The intersection on Greenhill, prior to the

17 intersection of Greenhill and 58, is that Greenhill and

18 Main Street?

19 A. You mean where I got on at or --

20 Q. I'm sorry.

21 A. Oh, okay. The intersection before -- okay.

22 Yes. South Main.

23 Q. Okay. That's Greenhill and South Main?

24 A. Correct.

25 Q. And is that the area that the vehicle's

23

1 coming from?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Do you recall what type of vehicle it was?

4 A. At the time I wasn't sure. I later found out

5 it was a 4-Runner.

6 Q. Kind of a truck type vehicle?

7 A. Yeah.

8 Q. It appear to be a truck type of vehicle --

9. Yes.

10 Q. -- when you first observed it?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. Did you make any observations about the

13 traffic controls at the time that you're observing this

14 vehicle traveling kind of fast?

15 A. I knew my lights were flashing yellow, and

16 when I saw his vehicle traveling pretty fast for coming

17 up to the intersection, I looked, you know, to see if he

18 had the flashing red lights just to make sure, you know,

19 I wasn't missing anything, and I saw his lights were

20 flashing red, so I knew he should be stopping.

21 Q. Did it appear to you that he was stopped?

22 A. That he was not stopping, yeah.

23 Q. And did you -- when you observed that -- when

24 you observed the vehicle approaching that intersection

25 relatively fast, did you observe any other vehicles at

24

1 that time?

2 A. I noticed a vehicle on the opposite side

3 heading east on Greenhill. I noticed that vehicle, they

4 were coming to a complete stop. I assumed they were

5 observing the same thing I was.

6 Q. And did there ever come a time when you

7 observed another vehicle?

8 A. I -- except for hers, her vehicle.

9 Q. When you say her vehicle, what are you

10 talking about?

11 A. Juli's.

12 Q. Juli Farrell's vehicle?

13 A. Uh-huh.

14 Q. That's somebody you found out was in the

15 vehicle that was involved in the accident?

16 A. Right.

17 Q. And when did you first observe her vehicle?

18 A. I didn't notice her vehicle until just a

19 little bit before the accident when I saw he was probably

20 not going to be stopping for the light. I looked over

21 and noticed her vehicle going almost through the

22 intersection at the time and --

23 Q. What did you think at that time?

24 A. I just thought I didn't want this -- to see

25 this happen.

25

1 Q. Did it happen?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Okay. Could you describe how it happened?

4 A. When he came through the intersection, I

5 assume he must have saw her at the last minute because he

6 didn't put his brake lights on until right before the

 

7 inter -- or right about through the intersection. Her

8 car kind of swerved a little bit to the right, and he

9 tried to, it looks like turn into her lane with her,

10 trying to avoid it. And instead they crashed and --

11 Q. What happened then?

12 A. Both the vehicles, all the lights went dead.

13 There was a lot of sparks flying. It looked like the

14 vehicle kind of was thrown up in the air a little bit,

15 and then they both went off to the corner of the

16 intersection there in the ditch.

17 Q. Just prior to the crash, did it appear at all

18 that this truck type vehicle traveling west on Greenhill

19 had made any attempt to stop?

20 A. Not until I'd say the very -- very last few

21 seconds right --

22 Q. Any attempt?

23 A. No.

24 Q. Any attempt to stop at the intersection

25 itself with the traffic control device?

26

1 A. No.

2 Q. And approximately how far or how close are

3 you to the accident where it takes place?

4 A. I was coming right up to the turning lane, so

5 I'm not sure how many feet that would be, but that

6 length. I was right about at that point.

7 Q. A clear view of the accident itself?

8 A. Oh, yes.

9 Q. Is that a pretty -- how would you describe

10 that intersection as far as visibility at that

11 intersection?

12 A. I think it's very open. There's not any

13 trees around the intersection, buildings, there's no

14 buildings.

15 MR. WADDING: May I approach, Your Honor

16 COURT: You may.

17 Q. I want to show you what's been marked as

18 State's Exhibit "A", marked for identification, and

19 you've seen -- I showed this to you before; is that

20 correct?

21 A. Yes.

22 Q. Do you recognize that?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. What do you recognize that as?

25 A. The intersection of Greenhill and Highway 58.

27

1 Q. Okay. And is that an accurate depiction of

2 the intersection?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. Okay. That's an aerial view, right?

5 A. Yes.

6 MR. WADDING: At this time, Your Honor, I

7 would ask that State's Exhibit "A" be entered into

8 evidence.

9 MR. CORRELL: Your Honor, I would object at

10 this point in time until there's been more foundation

11 laid regarding the photograph. There's no showing when

12 it was taken, by whom it was taken, the portion of the

13 roadway that it shows.

14 MR. WADDING: Well, I believe that the

15 foundation has been laid when the witness identifies it

16 as being an accurate depiction of the intersection, Your

17 Honor.

18 COURT: I'll overrule the objection. And,

19 Mr. Correll, you can -- you can have any limitations

20 defined in your cross-examination. Exhibit "A" is

21 admitted.

22 Q. Now, if you would do -- I'm going to give you

23 a pen there and ask you if you could plot out -- if you

24 could plot out where you were on State's Exhibit "A" at

25 the time that you're observing the accident,

 

28

1 A. You just want me to circle the area?

2 Q. You could put a square there and maybe put

3 your initials in there so I could recognize --

4 MR. CORRELL: Your Honor, may I come this

5 way?

6 COURT: You may.

7 MR. CORRELL: (Complied.)

8 COURT: Excuse me, Mr. Wadding. What is she

9 marking? I missed that.

10 MR. WADDING: Her location on the roadway

11 when she observed the accident.

12 A. (Complied.)

13 Q. Thank you. And that's approximately

14 approaching that turn lane at that intersection?

15 A. Yes.

16 Q. Okay. Thank you. And let me ask you another

17 question with regard to the State's Exhibit "A". Where

18 would the -- if you could show the court, where would the

19 defendant be coming from, or where would the other

20 vehicle be coming from that's going down Greenhill Road

21 that is involved in the accident?

22 A. He was traveling -- I first saw him probably

23 right up in here and then traveling down.

24 Q. Okay. And the -- if you go back toward the

25 east on that, is that -- is that intersection that's

29

1 depicted there, is that South Main?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Okay. And how would you characterize the

4 accident or the crash that you saw? Did you think it was

5 a minor one or --

6 A. I thought it was very major.

7 Q. Did it cause you some concern?

8 A. I was very concerned. I immediately traveled

9 up to South Main and found a house with its lights on and

10 called 911.

11 Q. And did you see other vehicles -- when you

12 went to call 911, did you see other vehicles at that

13 intersection?

14 A. Just -- I just noticed the one that was

15 sitting on the opposite side on Greenhill.

16 Q. And did they -- did you notice if they

17 stopped or --

18 A. I noticed -- yeah, they had been stopped

19 almost that whole time.

20 Q. And was that -- was that vehicle involved in

21 the accident at all, do you know?

22 A. Not involved, no.

23 Q. Did you have any impression as to whether it

24 would be?

25 A. At -- at first I thought it's possible

30

1 because I thought he might be going just straight to try

2 to avoid her and would go into their lane and run into

3 them, but that was about it.

4 Q. And after you called -- found a house and

5 called 911, did you return to the intersection?

6 A. No.

7 Q. And this event that you witnessed, you

8 indicated it was -- what time did you indicate that it

9 occurred?

10 A. About 11 o'clock at night.

11 Q. And why would you know that?

12 A. Just because I know I had left my mom's just

13 a little bit before 11. I knew I had to get home pretty

14 soon.

15 Q. And do you wear any corrective vision?

16 A. Yes, I do.

17 Q. And did you have -- what do you wear?

18 A. I wear contact lenses.

19 Q. Were you wearing them that --

20 A. Yes.

21 Q. -- night?

22 A. Yes.

23 Q. Did you consume any alcoholic beverages or

24 anything of that nature?

25 A. No.

 

31

1 Q. And was anyone else in your vehicle besides

2 your three-year-old son?

3 A. No.

4 MR. WADDING: That's all the questions I

5 have. Thank you.

6 COURT: Mr. Correll?

7 MR. CORRELL: Thank you.

8 CROSS-EXAMINATION

9 BY MR. CORRELL:

10 Q. Ms. Abels, when you were coming down the

11 roadway, Highway 58, how far back were you when you first

12 observed the yellow light flashing?

13 A. I'm not sure exactly how far I was.

14 Q. You come around a bend on Highway 58 when

15 you're going from the north to the south; is that

16 correct?

17 A. Yes -- yes.

18 Q. This photo here cuts just -- you just barely

19 start to see the bend, don't you, up at the top?

20 A. Right.

21 Q. Now, when you are at the top of this

22 photograph, which has been marked as Exhibit "A", when

23 you're way back here, you could see that yellow -- that

24 yellow light flashing, couldn't you?

25 A. I probably could, yes.

32

1 Q. And would that have been a yellow light

2 flashing that would have indicated that vehicles

3 proceeding from the north to the south should proceed

4 through that intersection with caution?

5 A. Yes. That's --

6 Q. Is that how you took it?

7 A. Is that how I take the yellow light?

8 Q. Yes.

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. Okay. And that was the type of flashing

11 light that that was, was it not?

12 A. Yes. My light was flashing yellow.

13 Q. Now, isn't it also true that on this road, as

14 you go from the north to the south, that I think you can,

15 in fact --

16 MR. CORRELL: May I show this -- put this in

17 front of the witness? (Complied.)

18 Q. That there are two signs here that indicate

19 there is a warning sign, that indicate that there's a

20 flashing light about 670 feet down the roadway?

21 A. Probably. I'm -- cannot say I remember them

22 right now.

23 Q. Have you driven that road previously though?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. Isn't there, in fact, a yellow diamond

 

33

1 light -- or sign that has three red, yellow and green

2 flashing lights --

3 A. Stoplight.

4 Q. -- stoplight on it?

5 A. Uh-huh.

6 Q. And that would be right back about 600 feet

7 before you enter the intersection, would it not?

8 A. Yes.

9.. And so the Farrell vehicle would have passed

10 that sign warning of the traffic lights, would it not?

11 A. I'm sure, yes.

12 Q. And there would be two of those, one on

13 each -- one on the right and one on the left of the

14 vehicles headed to the south; is that correct?

15 A. That's possible. I can't say I remember both

16 those signs, but --

17 Q. You know they're out there though, don't you?

18 A. I know that there is a sign, yes.

19 Q. Okay. Now, the visibility, as you're

20 proceeding north to south, you were able to see clearly

21 the vehicle that is now described as the 4-Runner type of

22 pickup, correct?

23 A. Correct.

24 Q. From -- at the location that you saw the

25 Farrell vehicle, would you agree that there would have

 

34

1 been no obstructions, no natural obstructions, signs,

2 trees, rocks, hills, that would have prevented them from

3 seeing the same thing you saw about that vehicle; would

4 you agree with that?

5 A. I would agree with that.

6 Q. And the -- when you ultimately did give a

7 statement to the police, that was not until February,

8 about four months after this accident; isn't that

9 correct?

10 A. I believe so.

11 Q. And with regard to speeding, you never did

12 attribute a miles-per-hour speed to either of the

13 vehicles in your statement; isn't that a fact?

14 A. That's correct.

15 Q. And you're not intending to imply that the

16 Rokes vehicle was exceeding the speed limit, are you?

17 A. I'm not saying that he was exceeding. It

18 just appeared he was approaching the intersection

19 quickly.

20 Q. But you're not saying he was speeding on

21 Greenhill Road; isn't that -- aren't I correct in that?

22 A. Yeah. I don't know what he was traveling.

23 Q. And the vehicle that did attempt to avoid the

24 accident at the end, wasn't that, in fact, the Rokes

25 vehicle?

 

35

1 A. I'm sorry. Can you repeat that?

2 Q. Isn't the vehicle that attempted to avoid the

3 collision at the end, wasn't that the Rokes vehicle?

4 A. Yes, I'd say both vehicles.

5 Q. Are you aware that there is reconstruction

6 testimony that indicates only the Rokes vehicle attempted

7 to avoid the accident?

8 MR. WADDING: I'm going to object to that,

9 Your Honor, assumes facts not in evidence.

10 COURT: Overruled. Are you aware of that?

11 WITNESS: No.

12 MR. CORRELL: I have nothing further. Thank

13 you.

14 COURT: Mr. Wadding?

15 MR. WADDING: Thank you.

16 REDIRECT EXAMINATION

17 BY MR. WADDING:

18 Q. Are you -- how familiar with that

19 intersection are you?

20 A. Ever since they built it.

21 Q. Okay. And you use it to go to your mother's

22 quite often?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. From Cedar Falls quite often?

25 A. Yes.

 

36

1 Q. Which way would you go to your mother's then?

2 A. If I'm going to my mother's?

3 Q. Yeah, if you're going to your mom's.

4 A. I would be coming down Greenhill turning onto

5 58.

6 Q. Would you be traveling west down Greenhill?

7 A. Yes.

8 Q. Same way the Rokes vehicle was traveling?

9 A. Yes.

10 Q. Okay. So have you gone through this

11 intersection at South Main and Greenhill?

12 A. Oh, yes, many times.

13 Q. Okay. And you approached that traffic signal

14 at Highway 58 and Greenhill?

15 A. Uh-huh. Yes.

16 Q. And could you just -- could you describe your

17 approach as you come to that intersection?

18 A. Well, I usually am slowing down either way

19 because I'm turning to go to my mom's or -- or to stop

20 because it's a red light.

21 Q. Now, I know that I'm not being very clear on

22 this. When you come down from South Main and the

23 Greenhill intersection, is there -- what's the geography

24 or the -- is there a hill there? Is it straight, level

25 land? How --

37

1 A. There's a hill. It's downhill.

2 Q. It's downhill?

3 A. Yes.

4 Q. Toward the intersection?

5 A. Yes. Yes.

6 Q. And when you're at the top of the

7 intersection, can you see -- when you're at the top of

8 the intersection of South Main and Greenhill, can you see

9 the intersection down on Highway 58 --

10 A. Yes.

11 Q. -- from Greenhill? Can you see the traffic

12 control devices?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. And pretty much at that -- at that vantage

15 point, you know, are the -- when you're at the -- when

16 you're at that intersection of South Main and Greenhill,

17 I mean, are you at eye level with the lights down at

18 Highway 58 and Greenhill?

19 A. When I'm at the top of the hill?

20 Q. Right.

21 A. I wouldn't say eye level. You're looking

22 down.

23 Q. Looking down at the lights then?

24 A. Yes.

25 Q. Okay. Does that change as you proceed toward

 

38

1 the intersection?

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. Okay. Can you describe how it changes?

4 A. As you're coming down the hill, it -- you

5 probably start looking up a little bit more as you

6 approach the intersection.

7 Q. So when you first start out, you're looking

8 down at that intersection down at the lights, right? And

9 as you continue to go down, you have to adjust and look

10 up, right?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. So it would probably be two or three

13 different vantage points you'd have to see the lights at?

14 A. Yes.

15 Q. Now, you indicated that there were no

16 obstructions preventing the Farrell vehicle from

17 observing the Rokes vehicle; is that correct?

18 A. That's correct.

19 Q. Any obstruction preventing the Rokes vehicle

20 from observing the Farrell vehicle?

21 A. No.

22 Q. Now, when you talked about the Rokes vehicle

23 traveling quickly, can you describe, why would you

24 describe it that way?

25 A. I assumed he would be stopping for the red

 

39

1 light, and normally you would see a vehicle slowing down,

2 you know. You wouldn't even think probably anything of

3 it, but it caught my eye because he was traveling -- to

4 me it looked fast. It looked like he was traveling very

5 fast for coming up to an intersection where you need to

6 be stopping.

7 Q. Looked like he had made any -- any -- any

8 compensation for approaching the light as opposed to just

9 traveling down the roadway?

10 A. Correct.

11 Q. Do you understand what I'm asking?

12 A. Yes.

13 Q. Okay. Did he make any compensation for that

14 light?

15 A. No.

16 MR. WADDING: That's all the questions I

17 have. Thank you.

18 COURT: Mr. Correll.

19 MR. CORRELL: Thank you.

20 RECROSS-EXAMINATION

21 BY MR. CORRELL:

22 Q. Ms. Abels, you have gone down, I take it from

23 your testimony, many times Greenhill Road?

24 A. Uh-huh, yes.

25 Q. And when you go on Greenhill, you usual

 

40

1 have taken the right to go visit your parents; is that

2 correct?

3 A. (Nodding.)

4 Q. When you go down Greenhill Road, it shows

5 here, first of all, the intersection right at the right-

6 hand corner, this is the intersection of South Main,

7 correct?

8 A. Correct.

9 Q. If you go down here a little bit farther,

10 there's that old people's Western Home down here?

11 A. Yes.

12 Q. Okay. Have you ever gone down it that way?

13 A. Yes.

14 Q. Now, would you agree, when you look at this

15 photo, it shows that there's a bend in the road here,

16 doesn't it, in Greenhill Road?

17 A. A little bit, yes.

18 Q. So if you went through the first portion of

19 Greenhill Road until you're down a little bit, and if you

20 look straight ahead, you would look right to the right of

21 the intersection, wouldn't you, if you look straight

22 ahead?

23 A. Yes.

24 Q. Okay. And then when you get down the road

25 maybe a third of the way down, maybe a little less than

 

41

1 that, then the road straightens out --

2 A. Yes.

3 Q. -- would that be a fair statement?

4 A. Yes.

5 Q. And it doesn't show up here, but the road at

6 Greenhill and South Main, that's where there's kind of

7 the crest of the hill almost right at South Main; isn't

8 that correct?

9 A. I'd say right in the area.

10 Q. And you really can't see the intersection

11 down here until you get right about in this intersection;

12 isn't that --

13 A. Yeah. Yes.

14 Q. You can't see it because the hill blocks your

15 vision before you get to South Main, correct?

16 A. Before the intersection, yes.

17 Q. And this isn't to scale, but would you agree

18 that this is approximately three-tenths of a mile from

19 South Main down to down here?

20 A. Yes. I'm not not good with distance, but --

21 Q. How about time, if you go -- if you would

22 drive from here down to here, from South Main down to

23 Highway 58 and you're going the speed limit, it would

24 take less than 30 seconds, wouldn't it?

25 A. Yes.

 

42

1 Q. Okay. Thank you.

2 MR. CORRELL: That's all.

3 COURT: Mr. Wadding?

4 MR. WADDING: Nothing further. Thank you.

updated 12/06/16