What accident investigators hope to learn from Palmgren crash - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

What investigators hope to learn during Palmgren crash reconstruction

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SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, HAMILTON COUNTY (WRCB) -- Now that the location, of Gail Palmgren's Jeep has been pin-pointed investigators will reconstruct the crash scene atop Signal Mountain to determine out how and why the Jeep left the road.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office has been analyzing the scene the last two days.      

Channel 3 talked to an expert on accident reconstruction to find out the science behind it and what exactly they can do to determine how the wreck happened.

"Oh there's hundreds of things you're looking at," says Tommy Sturdivan, crash reconstruction expert.

Sturdivan has worked thousands of crash scenes and trains investigators all over the country.

He's not investigating the Palmgren case, but can give insight into what clues they can find to determine how the wreck happened.

"Scale diagram is very important because your scale diagram is a reproduction of the scene and all of the evidence that's located in your scene," he says.

Investigators on the Palmgren scene are doing just that, showing Gail's red Jeep Rubicon, along with her personal items, hundreds of feet from where they discovered human remains.

They say their next step is to find the data stored in the Jeep, in what is called a block box.

Sturdivan explains these devices can tell a lot about what happened in the moments before impact.

"It's woken the box up and said 'look, we're about to be in a crash' and it will record data in those events," he says.

The black box, hopefully, will reveal several important clues.  

"Speed, you can get the tract position of the seats, the braking capability or whether the person was on the breaks or not, throttle position," he adds.

He says investigators also look for specific details in both the car's damage and even scars on the road.

"There's several hundred man hours that goes into a reconstruction," he says.

Investigators working the Palmgren case haven't given a clear time-stamp on how long their reconstruction will take.

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