Biomechanical Analysis: Collision Between ATV and Conservation Officer

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by Robert J. Nobilini, Ph.D. ::::

Case Synopsis: A Conservation Officer was struck and seriously injured when he attempted to stop the defendant from riding his all terrain vehicle (ATV) on a trail in an open field. Three Conservation Officers claimed that the defendant was accelerating as he drove his ATV at approximately 60mph straight into the Officer, as the Officer stood facing the ATV with his hands up in front of him. The defendant claimed that he was bringing his ATV to a stop and was traveling at approximately 25 mph when the Officer approached from the right side and attempted to knock him off of his ATV with a baton.

Expert Analysis:  An investigation conducted by the Conservation Officers noted the location of the point of impact along with the locations of the final rest positions of the Officer and ATV after the collision.  The defendant was able to identify the location where he came to rest after being ejected from his ATV.  Based on the distances between the point of impact and the final rest positions of the defendant and the ATV, calculations were performed to determine the speed of the ATV at the time of impact.  These calculations confirmed the defendant’s story that he was traveling at approximately 25 mph when the impact occurred.

An analysis of the Officer’s injuries confirmed the defendant’s story that the Officer approached from the right side of the ATV.  The Officer’s injuries included a derangement of his right knee and fractures of his left tibia and fibula.  The Officer was notably absent of injuries to his front and upper body, such as would be expected if he were struck head on.  The pattern of injuries to the ligaments of the Officer’s right knee, as well as the characteristics and orientation of the fractures to his left tibia, and fibula were consistent with a laterally directed force applied from left to right across the Officer’s lower legs.  The height of the fractures was consistent with the height of the foot rest on the right side of the ATV.  Damage to the right rear fender of the ATV was further consistent with contact from the Officer’s body.  The analysis showed that the Officer approached from the right side of the ATV, stepped between the front and rear wheels of the ATV, and was impacted from his left by the footrest and rear fender of the ATV as the Officer attempted to knock the defendant off.

Result:  The jury found the defendant innocent.

 

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