A group of Oklahoma state troopers say all the signs point to an intoxicated driver being the cause of a fatality wreck near Elmore City last year.
Their testimony came during a preliminary hearing in a Garvin County District courtroom for 56-year-old Jack Wilson Cesar Jr. of Norman.
Cesar was the driver of a car that went off a highway near the Stephens County line on Sept. 23, 2018 resulting in the death of a passenger, Joseph Whitaker.
After the accident several miles west of Elmore City, Trooper Mike Shanholtzer says three vials of blood drawn from Cesar confirmed the cause of the accident was “DUI.”
When Shanholtzer arrived at the wreck site after 8 p.m. that evening he said Cesar was being placed on a stretcher by an ambulance crew, while first responders were still working to cut Whitaker out of the crumpled car after it had struck a tree.
“There was a very obvious and strong odor of beer on him,” Shanholtzer said about Cesar.
“I was standing over him on the gurney. It was coming from his breath, he wasn’t speaking.
“I suspected impairment was the cause of the accident. There were a lot of underlying factors. At the end of the day when reports were done and blood comes back everything supported impairment.”
Shanholtzer said when he and another trooper later arrested Cesar he admitted to being the driver as they were driving to the Garvin County jail.
“He expressed great regret for the accident because he and Mr. Whitaker were great friends,” he said during testimony.
“He hated that it happened.”
The trooper added before the arrest it took them a couple of hours to find Cesar after he attempted to run from them.
Trooper Chris Earnhart testified he gave the order for a paramedic to draw blood from Cesar at the wreck site.
He said tests later showed Cesar had 0.213 percent blood-alcohol content in his system as he also tested positive for opioids.
As for the accident scene, Shanholtzer said he saw a white Pontiac G6 damaged on the front passenger side after it went off the roadway and struck a tree.
The car’s interior on that side was “compacted and crushed from the impact with the tree.”
“It was a gradual departure from the road,” Shanholtzer said. “There was no evidence that there was an attempt to correct the position back onto the road.
“That’s abnormal because usually there’s an attempt to regain control.”
Defense attorney Larry Balcerak of Pauls Valley took a number of opportunities during the hearing to ask questions about why troopers wrote down fatality accident on reports prepared before Whitaker was actually pronounced dead later at an Oklahoma City hospital.
“Based on my experience I didn’t see it as a survivable accident due to the amount of head trauma for the patient,” paramedic Dakota Meadows said about Whitaker.
Meadows is also the one who drew the blood from Cesar at the wreck site.
“When I asked him if it was OK to draw blood his words were, ‘I don’t care,’” Meadows said, adding Cesar’s speech was slow and there was an obvious odor of alcohol coming from him.