When a 2002 Jaguar crashed into a tree along Daniel Road in Carroll County in October, it wasn't just emergency personnel who responded. A team of trained investigators arrived the next day to determine how the wreck unfolded; what traffic laws were broken and whom is to blame.
Three occupants were trapped inside the car and had to be extricated. A backseat passenger died.
A witness claimed the car was traveling 70 to 80 miles an hour on the rural road. Open beer bottles were found inside the vehicle. Although investigators could assume speed and alcohol caused the driver to crash the car, they needed definitive answers for prosecutors and the victim's family.
"We are the voice of the victim," said Wade Chaffin, commander of the Georgia State Patrol Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team.
SCRT investigated nearly 300 crashes across the state last year.
"Our primary goal is to see what laws have been violated," said Chaffin.
Investigators measure the road's elevation and contour; photograph the scene and record tire marks and gouges.
The team uses an accelerometer to help determine the speed the vehicle was going before it crashed.
Chaffin said SCRT is responsible for determining whether the crash could have been avoided if the driver had been doing the speed limit.
After collecting data from the scene, troopers develop diagrams that help prosecutors in court.
"You can explain a wreck to a jury but if they can see something it makes them understand a lot better," said Master Trooper Tim Brock.
Based on their findings, SCRT investigators charged the driver with five counts including reckless driving, driving under the influence, vehicular manslaughter.
Copyright 2013 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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