Warrant Details Moments Before Fatal Seymour Crash
by Ethan Fry | Dec 12, 2012 8:23 pm
A group of four friends left a drinking party in the Seymour woods and headed to McDonald’s.
The music was blasting. Everybody was having a good time.
They would speed up and slow down, “riding the ass” of a car full of friends in front of them, egging on the driver, Manuel Esteves, that he could go faster.
So he did — and within seconds one of Esteves’ friends, 19-year-old Korey Jordan, was dead.
Esteves, 20, was arrested last month and faces charges in the case of drunk driving, second-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault and reckless driving.
He is scheduled to appear in court Thursday (Dec. 13).
According to the nine-page police affidavit investigators compiled to convince a judge to sign an arrest warrant for Esteves, the group had been drinking at “a party in the woods on Pheasant Drive where a bunch of kids were hanging out. . .”
The group eventually decided to leave and go to McDonald’s, one of them told police, four of them in Esteves’ following four others in another car.
According to an account provided to police by Joseph Staffier, one of the passengers in Esteves’ car, as the two vehicles drove north on South Main Street toward downtown, both drivers were speeding, “and the front car would speed up and slow down.”
Staffier told police he and the other passengers in the car were making comments like “They think they’re going fast, huh?” and telling Esteves he could “beat” the other driver.
“Then Manny gunned it, flew through his gears, and they were flying down South Main Street,” the warrant says.
They caught up to the other car near the intersection of South Main Street and Pearl Street, “and the other car had hit its brakes and had almost come to a stop.”
“Manny was already trying to pass them but then Manny slammed on the brakes and cut back in, in front of the other car,” the warrant says, adding that Staffier estimated they were going “about 110 MPH” at the time.
“He remembered hitting the curb and then seeing a telephone pole in front of them,” the warrant says. “He saw Manny turn the wheel to the left and the tires had no grip and they just right into the pole. He said he knew there was no way they were going to avoid the pole and remembered thinking they were all going to die.”
When Staffier came to, “he thought Manny was dead because Manny wasn’t in the car. He could see Korey and tried shaking him to wake him up . . . He saw a fireman reach in and check Korey’s pulse and then shake his head.”
He then managed to free himself from the wreck and landed on Esteves, who was sitting in the road next to the car.
“He told Manny that Korey was dead and Manny immediately said ‘Joey, don’t tell them I was driving.’”
That account was similar to one provided by a witness in the other car, who told police that when she ran toward Esteves’ car in the aftermath of the crash, he said “Do me a favor, I wasn’t driving, Joey was driving.”
The warrant says that when approached by a Seymour police officer after the crash, Esteves initially told them another one of his passengers had been driving, but that later he told the same officer he had been behind the wheel.
Because police noticed an odor of alcohol on Esteves’ breath, they obtained a search warrant for his medical records, which showed a blood alcohol content for Esteves of .156 and also showed “positive readings for opiates and benzodiazepines.”
The legal threshold for a driver younger than 21 is a blood alcohol content of .02.
Police tried to get a blood sample to see if it could be tested further but were told by hospital officials that they had been destroyed.
Police also tried to speak with Esteves while he was at the hospital being treated, but were told by a nurse that he did not wish to speak to them and had retained a lawyer.
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