Posts Tagged ‘crash reconstruction’

Bergen County, NJ Fatal Crash Unit Appreciates CZ Point Cloud

For more than 12 years, the Fatal Accident Investigation Unit (FAIU) of the Bergen County, New Jersey, Prosecutor’s Office used The CAD Zone’s Crime Zone software to document crime and crash scenes. When the agency acquired a Leica ScanStation C-10 laser scanner the investigators tried using the point cloud software that was included with the scanner. They found that they could easily scan a scene, but they struggled with creating courtroom-quality diagrams from the resulting point clouds.

Detective Andrew Rich, a 14 year veteran of the Bergen County FAIU (now retired), evaluated The CAD Zone’s CZ Point Cloud software and he quickly determined it was ideal for creating crime and crash scene diagrams from scanned data. He appreciated the many tools included in CZ Point Cloud that are specifically for generating 2D diagrams – which are critical for most investigations. Only CZ Point Cloud makes it easy to work within a point cloud and accurately select the evidence points you need to build both 2D and 3D diagrams.

Crash Reconstructionist Uses Animations In Courtroom Presentations

The use of 3D crash diagrams and animations can make a huge difference in presenting the details of a crash, especially in the courtroom. Lorne Starks, retired from the LAPD and a veteran crash reconstructionist, investigates crashes all over the country.  The members of his California-based firm, D&S Investigations, have collectively investigated over 30,000 traffic collisions and have reconstructed and provided opinions on more than 8000 traffic collisions. He finds that deploying animations is an ideal way to explain the events of a crash.

Starks has given expert testimony in more than 275 court cases involving traffic accident reconstruction, accident causation, damage analysis, and collision factors. He knows what evidence to look for at a crash scene and how it must be depicted in a diagram and animation. Given his lengthy experience investigating crash scenes and offering court testimony, what does he see are his biggest challenges? “Most of them have to do with measurements and physical evidence,” Starks said. “We find most reports we get do not document enough of the physical evidence. The challenge we have is trying to come up with different points of impact or different types of physical evidence such as skid marks, gouges, and the point of rest. This can be difficult, especially at a busy intersection” Starks said.

When he finally gets to a crash scene to be investigated, the scene could be a couple of weeks to a year old. “When we get out there, we rely a lot on photographs, and then you’re looking at reference points in the roadway—a crack or a painted line—and from there we can measure and document debris and physical evidence.”

The Crash Zone – Crash Scene Drawing Software

Whether they like it or not, Law Enforcement officers, Crash Investigators and Reconstructionists need to draw. They usually have many other things they would rather spend their time doing, but having an accurate, neat diagram of the crash scene is critical to their investigation.

Crash Zone 3D crash scene diagram

3D Crash Scene drawn with The Crash Zone

The Crash Zone drawing software (The Crash Zone web page) is the ideal tool for Crash Investigators and Reconstructionists who want great diagrams. It is easy to learn and use because it has many unique features that are specifically for drawing crashes. It’s NOT for engineers or architects or someone drawing a house floor plan. The Crash Zone is ONLY for drawing crash scenes.

Crash and Crime Scene Diagrams Are Obsolete – Right?

Investigators today are being bombarded with talk of point clouds, fly-throughs, animations, orthrectified images, and simulations. Since a crash or crime scene can just be “scanned” and recorded as a point cloud, some sales people will say that’s all an investigator needs to present in court. Just present the jury with a fly-through of the point cloud or show them a simulation and there is no need to create those old-fashioned diagrams any longer, right?


Reconstructionists Play Pivotal Role At Remote Crash Scenes

Vehicular accidents unfortunately don’t occur in just one locale. They strike every hour, on the hour, in the most populous areas of a state as well as in the remotest. The challenge is that the more remote the accident scene, chances are high that the expertise needed to fully investigate crash scenes will be sparse. Nevertheless, most cases involving a crash usually end up in court, making it essential to examine the crash scene thoroughly and generate a detailed diagram that will present the most likely sequence of events for a jury.


Almost invariably, well trained reconstructionists investigate and document crash scenes, but usually not far from their base of operation. When accidents occur in remote parts of a state, the investigating officer or team may not include a reconstructionist. Since the scene still must be investigated, mapped and diagrammed, these documentation steps can be more challenging.