Patterns of Injury - Auto Accident
A deputy was dispatched to a rural motor vehicle accident. Upon arrival at the scene, he was informed by law enforcement that both occupants of the vehicle were ejected. One was dead at the scene and the other was transported to the hospital. The occupant transported to the hospital had a .22 blood alcohol when he arrived, so he was facing a manslaughter or negligent homicide charge if he was the driver.
According to the officer, a witness stated that the car was traveling at a high rate of speed when it hit a power pole head-on, flipped end-over-end ejecting both occupants. The witness stated that he was not sure who was driving the car as he was standing in a field on his farm next to the road when they drove by at a high rate of speed.
The body of the deceased occupant was transported to the morgue for an autopsy. The pathologist stated that he would be looking for pattern injuries to see if he could help identify which occupant was the driver.
The autopsy revealed a semi-circular contusion/abrasion on the inner left breast – underlying rib fractures – the chest cavity was full of blood due to a laceration of the descending aorta at the level of the third and fourth left ribs. Also noted were intersecting one-quarter to one-half inch cuts present on the left side of the face.
The deceased person was the driver. He had a typical steering column impact site on his chest, with the expected underlying internal injuries. Even though the witness was not able to identify who was driving the vehicle, the coroner’s office was able to make the determination of driver versus passenger based on the autopsy findings alone in this case.