When Samantha Green delivered her daughter on Dec. 30, 2006, her husband was not by her side. He wouldn’t be there for the late-night feedings or to help with changing diapers.
John Green never got to meet his daughter, Addison, who is now 3.
He died just weeks before she was born. When he was standing atop the Cat Tracker fan bus, his head struck an Iowa Street overpass. He was 27.
Attorneys for Samantha Green tried to demonstrate what the loss of John Green meant to his family members as testimony continued Friday in the civil case stemming from the Nov. 18, 2006, accident.
“He had so much love,” said John Green’s mom, Cheryl Green, while choking back tears. “He would’ve taught her (Addison) about Peter Rabbit, which he loved. He would have danced with her and cheered her on. He would have walked her down her aisle at her wedding. It hurts to know she looks up and says, ‘Daddy’s up there in heaven.’ It would be nice for her to be able to look at him and say ‘hello.’”
Most of Friday’s testimony was emotional, as Samantha Green took the stand, sharing with jurors the story of how the two got engaged, showing wedding and honeymoon photos, as well as pictures of the sonogram of their unborn daughter and a crib her husband had refurbished in anticipation of the birth of their first child.
“Do you see John in Addison?” Attorney James Thompson asked Samantha Green.
“Every minute,” she answered, while wiping tears. “People are always saying she talks through her expressions. You can just see his facial expressions. You can see it in her eyes.”
Earlier in the day, John Green’s sister and father both had trouble testifying as they talked about the type of father John Green would’ve been to Addison.
“Our big objective is that Addison know who her dad was,” John’s father, Jim Green, said. “He was the greatest kid ever. He would’ve been strict with Addison, but there would have been a lot of love. He would’ve been there for his child, the same as I was for him.”
Samantha Green left the courtroom in tears as her father-in-law testified.
But beyond the emotional loss, Samantha Green’s attorneys tried to portray to the jury the actual monetary loss associated with Green’s death.
Forensic economist John Ward took the stand, explaining to jurors how he calculated how much Green could have earned throughout his career.
He estimated that Green, who was making $65,000 plus bonuses at the time of his death, could have provided his family with more than $3.6 million in earnings and services throughout his lifetime.
Jurors also got the chance Friday to hear from the driver of the Cat Tracker, Brent Simonsson.
Simonsson said he never saw the overpass on Iowa Street as he drove the double-decker Kansas State University fan bus, loaded with people standing on the upper deck, under the bridge.
Simonsson also said, during a videotaped deposition played for jurors Friday in Douglas County District Court, that he assumed no one was on the upper deck as the bus made its way to Memorial Stadium for a college football game on Nov. 18, 2006.
“I had no reason to believe they were still up there,” Simonsson said. “I didn’t even think about it.”
It was the first time the court had heard from the driver since the accident that killed Green and seriously injured 34-year-old Chris Orr. The testimony came during the third day of the civil trial, in which Green’s widow is suing Briggs Auto Group of Manhattan, claiming the auto dealership put an unsafe vehicle on the road. Briggs is the only remaining defendant after the others reached a settlement.
Simonsson was recruited to drive the bus from Manhattan to Lawrence at the last minute after both of the other “regular” drivers were unable to make the trip.
He said he had no knowledge of the dimensions of the bus, including how high it stood off the ground, nor was he given any instruction to not allow people on the upper deck while the bus was in motion.
“I was 100 percent comfortable with driving the vehicle,” Simonsson said. “I wasn’t there as a safety instructor; I was a driver. I’m going to be extremely careful any day that I’m driving people.”
Attorneys for the plaintiff rested their case Friday.
Attorneys for the defendant are expected to call their first witness Monday morning.