Nashua Telegraph – Thursday, December 17, 2009
Crash expert takes stand
By JOSEPH G. COTE – Staff Writer
Charles Schack, who was testifying as an expert witness and is the president of Crash Experts Inc., in Manchester, took part in police tests this spring and summer in the Elm Street dirt lot where the crash occurred.
Schack, after explaining the acceleration tests that used another Dodge Intrepid, said he concluded Hernandez’s car turned into the lot from Beech Street, drove straight at Beaudoin and his friends, and accelerated “under power” until it hit Beaudoin and Maria Hughes.
Hughes was one of three people with Beaudoin that night. She suffered a minor knee injury in the collision while Beaudoin suffered a major head trauma and died the next day.
Hernandez, 45, is charged with second-degree murder, assault and reckless conduct for hitting and killing Beaudoin with her car in a dirt lot behind the Maynard & Lesieur tire shop on Elm Street.
Prosecutors argue she was angry with Beaudoin and his friends following an altercation a few minutes earlier in the City Hall parking lot.
Hernandez’s public defenders say Beaudoin and his friends terrified Hernandez with their harassment in the City Hall lot and chased her into the dirt lot and say Hernandez was trying to escape the area to go home.
Both groups had spent the evening at nearby bars.
Schack said the tire marks in the dirt lot indicate that Hernandez’s 1997 Intrepid was accelerating all the way through the dirt lot because the dirt in the tracks was kicked up or disturbed. If the car had been coasting and the tire rotating freely, there would have been tread impressions in the dirt, Schack said.
Police bought another 1997 Dodge Intrepid and ran acceleration tests in April and July by driving it from Beech Street through the lot at varying speeds. The tire marks looked closest to those left by Hernandez’s car after a test run at 26 mph, Schack said.
During a cross examination by public defender William Schultz, Schack said it’s possible the car was driving away from Beaudoin and his friends if they had started out at the dirt lot’s exit, to the north of where the collision happened. He also said where the tire marks turn left after the collision spot and head into a parking meter could be the beginnings of a swerve or turning maneuver