Salesman George Perez rounded a blind, sloped curve in his white company pickup truck on southbound J-59, heard a thud and saw a pillar of dust rise as high as a telephone pole.
As the road straightened, he saw the bloody aftermath of an Oct. 21, 2016 collision that killed three people and injured three others — a body slumped out of a mangled white Camry and a crumpled body in the middle of the road.
“It was pretty ugly,” Perez testified Friday morning on the second day of testimony in the trial of Diane Anderson, a Sonora nurse accused of being an accessory after the fact to vehicular manslaughter.
During the testimony of seven others — mostly witnesses and first responders to the chaotic post-crash scene — Diane Anderson sat quietly between her attorneys, Roger Nuttal and Mark Coleman of Fresno and Nathan Nutting of Sonora.
Perez was listed on a California Highway Patrol dispatch log as the first emergency call about the collision.
“There’s a head-on collision about 100 yards north of Bonds Flat Road,” said Perez from the business phone of the Houseboat Mini Mart down the road from the collision.
The audio recording, played for the seven woman, five man jury, continued about the vehicles. “It’s pretty mangled,” Perez said of the Camry. “One is down an embankment.”
Perez testified he saw one other car pulled over at the accident site and a woman get out.
He did not testify to seeing two off-duty married nurses driving in separate vehicles, Joseph Hoffman and Shaunna Hoffman (no relation to the Hoffman victims involved in the collision).
Joseph Hoffman said he also heard the crash as he rounded the blind curve and saw the bottom of the Lexus as it flipped into the air and tumbled down the embankment.
He ran to Tina’s body in the road and took her pulse, but knew immediately she was dead. From there, he assisted Dorothy Eisemann out of the driver’s side of her vehicle and checked the vitals of Rheinholt Eismann, who was unconscious in the passenger seat. When he climbed to the bottom of the embankment to check on the driver of the Lexus, he heard his wife call out, “Dr. Anderson.”
Perez said a procession of vehicles was ahead of him when he turned onto J-59 from Highway 108 about 10 minutes earlier, but he did not see them again.
Perez left the Houseboat Mini Mart and did not return because he provided his information to the dispatcher, he said.
Much of the cross-examination of the prosecution’s case has focused on how long Danny and Diane were at the crash site and what they did there. They seem to be laying the groundwork for alternative theories about the collision, alluding to someone else passing the vehicles, possibly in the other direction.
The prosecution must prove Danny Anderson’s responsibility for manslaughter at Diane Anderson’s trial to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she was an accessory after the fact.
Both Shaunna and Joesph Hoffman estimated Danny Anderson arrived within five minutes of them, but they did not see him or Diane when they first arrived at the accident scene.
Joseph Hoffman said he told Danny Anderson the woman in the street was dead, and Shaunna noted Danny then went to the woman and appeared to administer aid to her.
She added later in response to questions from District Attorney Laura Krieg that the grisly scene made it obvious that the woman was beyond saving. Joseph Hoffman then returned to the vehicle in the embankment, where he spoke to survivor Dillon Hoffman and noted the conditions of Trista Hoffman, the driver, and her friend Annie Johnson in the back seat, who sustained brain injuries.
Shaunna and Joseph Hoffman and Perez said they did not recall being passed in a southbound direction or notice a vehicle traveling northbound when they arrived at the scene.
Shaunna Hoffman said she recognized Danny Anderson from prior work and also saw Diane, though she did not know who she was at the time.
Keri Pickett, a CHP public safety dispatch supervisor in Merced where the CHP - Sonora area calls are dispatched out of, testified the Perez call came in at 4:26 p.m. The collision was said to have occurred at about 4:20 p.m.
A minute later, another 911 recording was relayed from an apparent witness to a woman at the Hacienda, an office building associated with Lake Don Pedro.
The woman said two vehicles were involved in an accident and one woman was lying in the road.
“It happened right in front of the lady who’s reporting it,” the caller said.
A call also came in from a woman named Christina Hodge at 4:41 p.m. She said a pedestrian female juvenile may have been hit in the street and involved in the accident, Pickett said in response to questions from Coleman.
The Hodge call was not recorded because it may have been received by one of the dispatch lines that is not typically recorded, she said.
Brian Ogilvie, a flight paramedic formerly employed with a ground ambulance company, testified his crew was the first ambulance on scene.
They triaged the patients, or prioritized them based on the severity of their injuries, to have them sent to area hospitals.
He said he pronounced Trista Hoffman dead at the scene.
Jenny Nieves, an EMT with Tuolumne County ambulance, testified she saw first responders attending to the victims when she arrived after Ogilvie.
CHP Officer Michael McDaniel testified that he was tasked with retrieving the video surveillance footage from the Houseboat Mini Mart shown during the trial, which identifies a procession of northbound vehicles before the accident.
He said he was instructed to find the make and model of the last vehicle in the procession of cars, which was determined to be a 2014-2016 Acura MDX.
He said other CHP officers were involved in attempting to identify the minivan whose make and model was never determined.
Krieg said before the lunch break she expected to close her case at the end of Monday or on Tuesday morning. She said she expected to play the complete two and a half hour audio interview between the CHP and Diane Anderson before her arrest on Monday.
Diane Anderson was a passenger in her husband Danny’s white Acura MDX. Authorities say he crossed the double yellow lines on northbound J-59 to pass vehicles and caused a head-on collision between a white Lexus RX300 driven by 16-year-old Trista Hoffman and a white Toyota Camry driven by Dorothy Eisemann.
Diane Anderson is on trial for accessory after the fact to vehicular manslaughter, failure to perform a duty after an accident (also known as hit and run) and misdemeanors concealing evidence and obstructing an investigation. Danny Anderson was sentenced to five years and four months in state prison last year after being convicted of triple manslaughter.