Trial begins for man accused of killing Cottonwood fire captain
The jury trial of Jered Barbour is underway in Shasta County. He is the man accused of hitting and killing a Cottonwood fire captain with his Dodge pickup truck during a hail storm in February 2012.
Capt. Mark Ratledge, 35, was helping rescue two drivers who spun off Interstate-5 near the Gas Point Road exit during the rough early morning weather Feb. 29.
According to the California Highway Patrol, Barbour lost control of his vehicle, skidded off the road in the same area, and hit Ratledge and other officers helping at the scene. Ratledge was crushed by the pickup truck and was killed.
Three CHP officers testified before the jury Thursday. Pictures from the scene were shown and displayed how Barbour allegedly made an unsafe maneuver to avoid the slowed traffic. That is when the bed of his truck hit the center median. Barbour lost control of the vehicle before it slid down the embankment.
An expert traffic witness matched up pictures of the damage with the markings on Barbour’s truck.
People close to Ratledge were visibly upset in the courtroom.
“It's not my place to make judgment, and it's not my place to form his punishment. That's what the court system is for,” said Ratledge’s girlfriend Jennifer Hobbs. “I want to see them do right by Mark. Mark was a really big person in our community and to my family. So it's quite a loss.”
It was also revealed Thursday in front of the jury that there was no evidence to show Barbour was distracted while driving. Officers got a search warrant for a log of his phone calls and text messages.
Officers conducted a field sobriety test at the time of the crash. They found he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Witnesses said Tuesday that Barbour may have been traveling too fast for the conditions at the time. He admitted at the scene in February 2012 to going about 50 to 55 MPH on the icy highway, after two crashes had already happened.
Barbour has been charged with vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence. There are additional charges for making an unlawful turning movement and for failing to obey the speed law.
The jury trial will continue Tuesday, Jan. 14.
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