Deputy Gains Reinstatement With Help Of Accident Reconstructionist

Posted on Wednesday, March 01, 2000 at 12:00PM

On March 16, 1999, Yuba County Deputy, Geoff Page, was involved in a serious automobile accident while he was responding to back up another officer. Page was traveling northbound on North Beale Road in Yuba County. At the time, he was traveling “Code-2″ at a rate of speed that he estimated to be between 40 and 50 mph. The speed limit on that section of North Beale Road is 35 mph. As he approached the intersection of North Beale and Park Avenue, he noticed traffic was slowing at the intersection. There is no stop sign or traffic signal that would stop traffic at the intersection while traveling northbound on North Beale Road. He proceeded into the left turn lane and entered the intersection. As he entered the intersection, he noticed another vehicle was forcing its way out into traffic on North Beale Road. Page was unable to stop and struck the vehicle in the left front fender area.

Page suffered minor injuries in the accident. He then received another shock when the department placed him on administrative leave and later terminated him. The department alleged that Page violated a number of policies related to pursuits. However, the department based it’s termination of Page primarily on what it determined to be Page’s excessive rate of speed at the time of the accident. Following the accident, the California Highway Patrol conducted an extensive investigation and completed a report. The CHP concluded that Page was traveling at 68 mph at the time of the collision.

On appeal, Page was represented by Paul Q. Goyette of Goyette & Adams. LDF and Goyette retained the services of Kauderer & Associates to recreate the accident to ascertain Page’s speed just prior to the collision. Kauderer & Associates determined that Page was more likely traveling at a speed of approximately 50 mph. More importantly, Kauderer found a number of glaring mistakes in the CHP report, especially in the speed calculations. Based on this information, Goyette was able to successfully negotiate Page’s return as a patrol deputy to the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department. Goyette stated, “The moral of this story, is to never accept as accurate the findings and conclusions in an accident report of this kind, no matter how polished and lengthy it may be. By finding significant mistakes in the report, we were able to attack the accuracy of the conclusions and the department’s whole basis for terminating Deputy Page.”

PORAC Legal Defense Administrator Ed Fishman Testimony: Law Enforcement Use of Body Cameras.