Expert witness ties truck to bicycle in fatal hit-and-run trial | News, Sports, Jobs

LISBON — An expert witness who analyzed the evidence from an Oct. 23, 2021 accident that killed a Columbiana eighth grader matched his crumpled bicycle to defendant Donald E. White’s truck.

“I concluded it was the vehicle that struck Aidan,” Trooper Brian Cannon said.

Cannon works as a crash reconstructionist for the Ohio State Highway Patrol and was deemed an expert by Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Judge Megan Bickerton during White’s jury trial Wednesday.

In the case at hand, 13-year-old Aidan Wollman was riding his bicycle, along with a friend who was riding behind him on state Route 164 just south of Beeson Mill Road, when he was struck by a truck and died. White was indicted for aggravated vehicular homicide for causing the death, along with two counts of failure to stop after an accident and possession of cocaine the day after the accident.

Cannon described in great detail how he uses forensic mapping to document the scene and the location of evidence found at the scene and used evidence analysis to come up with his conclusion that White’s truck struck the victim’s bicycle. In reviewing photographs used in his crash analysis, he pointed out a scuff mark and gouge in the fog line or white line on the road at the crash scene, indicating how the wheel of the bicycle was pushed into the asphalt, showing exactly where the collision occurred, off of the lane of travel.

He also talked about how the dent in the frame of the bicycle came from the impact of the truck bumper and how the bicycle tire had paint on it from the fog line, showing the great amount of force that caused the paint to melt and transfer onto the tire.

When found abandoned on Kelly Park Road, the truck had a flat tire, but Cannon said there were no tire marks at the crash scene. The damage on the truck’s front bumper included a dent and a scuff mark. The dent was very narrow and matched up to Aidan’s bicycle tire. The scuff mark came from something rubber, such as a shoe or tire.

“Did you find any evidence of that truck braking at the scene?” county Chief Assistant Prosecutor Ryan Weikart asked, with Cannon replying, “None.”

Besides the photographs, Cannon also reviewed renderings he did of the crash scene.

Trooper Michael Gurlea, an investigator assigned to the OSHP Office of Criminal Investigation, testified about assisting with the phone records, the vehicle pieces left behind at the accident scene and a recorded jail call conversation when White talked about the accident.

He found that White’s cell phone was initially in the Salineville area on Oct. 23, 2021, then was closer to the area of the crash, pinging off of a tower near Geary’s towing on state Route 344, then near state Route 224 in Canfield and worked it’s way back south, pinging off the state Route 344 tower, then back in the Salineville area.

In studying the vehicle pieces at the scene and comparing them to the front-end damage on White’s truck, he said “they were an exact match to the vehicle.”

The jail call made on Nov. 2, 2021 was played for the jury and two voices could be heard, one identified as the defendant. What struck Gurlea about the call was that White made a statement that he should have stayed, then that he should have gotten out of the area. If he had the truck, he would have buried it.

“They would have never connected the truck to me,” White said on the call.

During cross examination of both investigators, defense attorney James Wise asked about accidents being caused in a variety of ways, some intentionally, some recklessly and some negligently.

He filed a motion Wednesday asking the jury be given instruction on a lesser included offense of vehicular homicide which would require a finding of negligence.

The trial is continuing today.

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Expert witness ties truck to bicycle in fatal hit-and-run trial