For Reasons Unknown

Dana Wells' family and friends believe his death was no accident. The truth might have died with him.

Wells' three best friends from high school--Mark Corona, Chris McDonald, 24, and Travis Demare, 23--are more bold.

They all heard the stories, but more important, they say, they all knew Thomas and Graci. Corona, McDonald and Demare describe Thomas and Graci as two guys who acted tough, carried guns for show and hung out with "slingers," or drug dealers.

So what was mellow, innocent, nice guy Dana Wells doing in a car with them at 1:43 in the morning?

"Well, we knew these guys from parties and school and shows, and we never had a problem with them or anything," says Corona. "Still, the only reason I can think why Dana would even be with those dudes is all three of us were out of town."

"You know, as hard-ass as they play, Dana dying has still gotta be on their head," says Corona of Thomas and Graci. "I know they know more about what happenened."

Neither Thomas nor Graci has a criminal record. For all the allegations about guns and drugs, authorities have no knowledge that any were present that night. Neither Thomas, Graci, nor their lawyer would comment for this story.

After the accident, Shawn Thomas and Miles Graci collected on Dana Wells' insurance policy--Gloria Cavalera says they got 30 grand each--then sued Allstate, Kristin Carneal's insurance company.

On April 30, 1997, Thomas and Graci gave depositions for their lawsuit. It was the first time either of them were questioned about the accident under oath.

The questioning occurred in the office of Thomas' and Graci's attorney, Stanley Jerman. Graci went first, and was initially examined by Gloria Cavalera's attorney, Angela Sinner.

Graci said he called Wells on August 15, 1996.
"I just heard he was in town, so I called, and he just wanted to talk. And then I went over to his house, and we just hung out. That was it."

Graci said he and Wells made plans to go out that night. He said Thomas joined him, and they traveled together to Wells' house in Graci's '85 Pontiac Firebird. He said they hung out at Dana's for about 45 minutes, smoked a joint and decided to go play pool at Liguori's.

Graci said when they tried to leave, his car wouldn't start, so Wells borrowed his girlfriend's Hyundai. He said he couldn't remember what time they arrived at Liguori's, or how long they were there, but said they were still playing pool at 1 a.m., because the bartender said they could stay past closing to finish their game. He said he and Thomas split a pitcher of beer with some girls, and Wells drank one or two drinks, vodka and cranberry juice.

"Before you left Liguori's, did you talk about what you were going--the three of you were going to do after you left Liguori's?" Sinner asked.

Graci said no.
"When you left Liguori's, was Dana driving?"
"Yes."
"Then where did you go?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know where you went after that?"
"That's the last--no, that's the last memory I have."

"Do you have a memory of someone eating some kind of chips or something that had ants in it?"

"Yes."
"Okay."
"As we were leaving Liguori's, we got into the car, and Shawn had a bag of chips he had thrown down on the way to Liguori's. And then on the way out, he thought that he'd take a bite of them again, and there was ants in the bag. He opened up the car door and then ran into Liguori's and asked them to open it up again real quick so he could go in and wash his mouth out, and that's the last thing I remember."

"Where had the chips come from?"
"I don't know."
"Do you recall him coming back and getting into the car from washing his mouth out?"

"No."
"What is your very next memory after that?"
"Being inside the car with the paramedics talking to me."
"Have you talked to Shawn about what happened that evening?"
"Yes, I have."

"Has he given you any information about this period of time during which you say you can't remember anything?"

"No, none."
"In thinking back to the time of the accident," Sinner asked, "was there anyone you were in a fight with or anyone who you can think of who would have wanted to hurt you or scare you?"

"No."
Allstate Insurance attorney Keith Forsyth took over the questioning.
"Both of your legs had multiple fractures in the accident, true?"
"Yeah."
"Did you hit your head in the accident, as far as you know?"
"I have no idea."
"Did anybody ask you in the hospital whether you suffered any amnesia?"
"I don't remember."

"That may look like an ironic answer later. The hospital records as to you indicate that the people at the hospital found you alert and oriented and that they wrote that you did not suffer any amnesia at all, retrograde or antegrade. That means before or after. First, do you know that the records said that?"

"No."
"You do, however, have some amnesia?"
"Yes."
"All right. Did you ever speak to a neurologist?"
"No."

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