Report: CHP unable to determine if John Wooner vehicle accidentally driven or intentionally pushed into river

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John Wooner

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Officers who examined physical evidence at the crash scene were unable to determine whether the SUV occupied by John Wooner was accidentally driven into the Kern River — or intentionally pushed.

The California Highway Patrol has seized the event data recorder from the city-owned 2012 Dodge Durango the 57-year-old was driving and sent it to its Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team in Fresno, according to a court document.

That team, which handles in-depth investigations of major traffic collisions throughout the state, conducted an analysis of the recorder Aug. 2, the report says. The document does not say what information has been gleaned from the recorder.

Wooner went missing after he was last seen May 14 visiting Hillcrest Memorial Park. The cemetery is 11.1 miles from where the submerged Durango was removed July 28 near Highway 178 after citizens reported seeing it in the water.

The roof of the SUV could be seen in the water, an officer wrote in the document. Water levels in the river had dropped about three feet in the week leading up to the vehicle’s discovery.

The coroner’s office as of Friday had not released Wooner’s cause and manner of death.

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