John Wiversoll’s blood-alcohol level was almost five times the legal limit when he crashed his van into a tree near an Alta Sierra intersection last month, critically injuring two young siblings, according to a police report obtained by The Union.
Wiversoll was driving 9-year-old Billy and 11-year-old Emily Rose to a sleepover at his house Dec. 21, 2003, when he drove his full-size Chevrolet van off Tippy Way and into a tree.
California Highway Patrol officials said they likely will arrest Wiversoll when he completes physical therapy at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital. He will face charges of child endangerment and driving under the influence causing injury, according to the CHP report.
His blood-alcohol level was .397 shortly after the accident, the report stated. California’s legal limit is .08.
According to Billy, Emily and the report, Wiversoll was drunken and taking curves too fast before losing control of his van.
Billy’s skull was fractured in the crash, leaving part of his brain exposed. His stomach was torn in several places. Though he will need reconstructive surgery in the coming months, Billy apparently avoided brain damage.
Emily’s face had been smashed, probably on a seat in front of her. Her jaw was missing, and she lost 14 teeth. Metal plates and wires now support her face. She was released from Sutter Roseville Medical Center on Dec. 31. The family expects Billy to leave the hospital in the next few days.
Wiversoll’s son Blake was also in the van but was not seriously hurt. Wiversoll suffered a lacerated bowel and broke his femur and tibia bones.
‘He seemed OK’
The CHP report chronicles the events leading up to the day of the crash and what transpired in the weeks after.
On Dec. 21, Jill Rose was at work and her husband was in and out of the house, leaving for almost an hour at one point, according to the report. Wiversoll arrived at the Rose house that morning with four 40-ounce bottles of beer, Bill Rose, the father, said in the report.
“He started drinking one of his shortly after he arrived,” Bill Rose said in the report. “I think it was before 9 a.m. … He seemed OK.”
Two of the Rose children said they saw Wiversoll mix drinks in the family’s kitchen while their father was out of the house that morning.
“I saw him mix two big glasses of vodka and orange juice,” said Jennifer Rose, 12.
But Bill Rose said he only saw Wiversoll drink one beer, and in an earlier interview with The Union, he said he did not smell alcohol on Wiversoll’s breath.
Later that afternoon, Wiversoll invited Billy and Emily for a sleepover with Blake. The children all sat in the very back of his van. Everyone, including Wiversoll, was wearing a seat belt.
Wiversoll crashed minutes after leaving the Rose house.
On Dec. 31, Wiversoll told CHP Officer Todd Labadie, the lead crash investigator, that he was driving the speed limit when a deer came from the left side of the road.
Three days later, he contradicted himself, saying the deer came from the right side.
“I swerved hard to the right to avoid hitting the deer,” he told Labadie on Dec. 31. “I felt the bump; I’m sure I hit it. Tried to stop, I braked hard. Then I hit the tree. I couldn’t avoid it.”
In a Jan. 2 interview with Labadie, Emily Rose told a different story.
“John was trying to do the turns fast,” she said. “And he was laughing out loud. Then he fell out of his seat and crashed.”
Emily said she did not see a deer.
On Dec. 31, Labadie asked Wiversoll if he drank any alcoholic drinks on Dec. 21.
“No! Absolutely nothing,” Wiversoll responded.
On Jan. 2, Labadie asked the same question again.
“Just beer,” Wiversoll told the investigator. “I had a couple of beers.”
After the crash, Wiversoll was found pinned in the van.
Nevada County Consolidated firefighters Rob Terrassa and Robert Tellam, who pulled Wiversoll from the wreckage, told Labadie they overheard Wiversoll say, “I’ll never drink again,” as he was being brought to the Calstar helicopter.
“Tellan (sic) said he smelled the odor of an alcoholic beverage while inside of (the) vehicle,” the report stated.
Tellam is quoted as saying Wiversoll “had an unusually high pain tolerance.”
The Calstar nurse who took care of Wiversoll on the flight to Sutter Roseville also noted a strong smell of alcohol on Wiversoll’s breath.
According to the report, his wife, Sandra Wiversoll, came into the CHP office in Grass Valley on Jan. 6 and told Officer Greg Thys her husband “wanted to confess to consuming alcohol before the accident happened.”
“He’s had a drinking problem for some time, and this incident has allowed me to convince him to get help,” she said, according to the report.
She also left a note for Labadie: “Please question my husband John Wiversoll again about the accident. He is ready to come clean!”
Labadie called her several hours later.
“She told me to disregard the note,” Labadie said in the report. “She said that she had retained legal counsel and has been advised not to discuss the details of collision with the CHP.”
After reading the contents of the CHP report, Jill and Bill Rose said they felt their trust in the Wiversolls had been betrayed.
“The fact that he would lie … shows that he has learned nothing from this,” Jill Rose said Wednesday. “Apparently, John doesn’t care about our kids.
“We have tried to maintain a really good open relationship with Sandra and Blake (since the accident),” Jill Rose said.
Contacted at her home, Sandra Wiversoll said she was distraught over the situation.
“I understand what the Rose family is going through,” she said. “They are entitled to getting their medical bills paid.
“This is too much for me,” she said.
A hunt for records
When Wiversoll arrived at Sutter Roseville on Dec. 2l, he was immediately rushed to the emergency room and it was not possible for CHP officers to get a blood sample for a DUI test.
On Jan. 14, highway patrol officers brought a search warrant to the hospital in hopes of obtaining Wiversoll’s original blood sample.
However, that blood sample had been destroyed because of hospital policy.
Instead, other records were taken by the officers, including his blood-alcohol level and statements by emergency room doctors that Wiversoll admitted to drinking before driving.
“In the trauma room the patient is intoxicated, smells of alcohol and has minimal other complaints,” doctor Philip Bosco said in the report.
In Labadie’s report summary, he said Wiversoll was driving 5 to 10 miles over the speed limit while under the influence of alcohol.
His recommendation: “Prosecute Wiversoll for driving under the influence of alcohol – causing injury to others, and child endangerment.”
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