MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Vehicle crashes can leave a lot of questions. And in many cases, a lot of heartaches. One earlier this year on Moffett Road took the lives of Ariel Jasper and her one-year-old son Noah Brown.
Her mother said, “And there comes a knock at the door… and I told my grandson, I say get the door that’s your dad, and he said no Grandma it’s the police. When I saw that chaplain badge, the only thing I could say was, ‘who is it?'”
Investigating accidents, especially those where one or more deaths is involved, is the priority of highly trained officers — to find out above all, how and why it happened.
Alabama State Trooper Corporal Phillip Faulkner said, “In order to investigate it and get the clear picture, you have to become that scene. You have to take it personally. Because what we want is the answer to those two questions.”
And thanks to new technology, their job has gotten a little easier.
“It’s a laser scanning technology. It’s actually infrared technology so it can also be used in extreme darkness or in places where there is virtually no light at all,” said Russell Boynton, who works for FARO, the company that markets and sells the imaging equipment.
Brian Harvin with the State Bureau of Investigation added, “You can do crush calculation, momentum, the skid marks and calculate all that stuff in the FARO zone software.”
Boynton said, “So when an officer scans the scene Faro’s instrument is taking in about one million measurements per second with an accuracy of about one millimeter per scan.”
Used in conjunction with advanced drones, the data collected from both is downloaded into the FARO software. The result is a clear picture — a recreation on video of how the accident happened. A clear three-dimensional recreation that juries can see and understand.
“We now have the capability using this technology to walk folks and jurors through a scene using virtually using virtual reality glasses,” said Boynton.
Alabama State Troopers have been using the new FARO technology for about a year and a half now. It’s a far cry from what they used to use–that took an immense about of time.
Senior State Trooper Anna Peeples showed us that system.
“This is our total mapping station, our TOPCON. It’s what ALEA used for years,” she said.
With this system, measurements used to reconstruct accident scenes are taken one at a time, which takes much more time. It also takes more people.
“Two troopers at a minimum. Three troopers are really what this would require,” she said.
It could lead to several hours investigating one accident scene, all while traffic is at a standstill in many cases.
The new technology cuts that time tremendously and helps officers to definitively answer the questions–how and why.
Cpl. Faulkner added, “Because there are a lot of interested parties waiting on that stuff. We respect that. But at the same time, we have to become that voice because that victim can’t tell their side.”