The Crash Investigation Unit for the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office consists of a group of highly trained officers that document and investigate the scene of serious and fatal motor vehicle accidents within and outside of Dutchess County.
The significance of the evidence documented at the scene through photographs and forensic mapping is usually crucial to the prosecution of a criminal or civil case involving wrongful death or serious physical injury. The focus in these extensive investigations is to prove or disprove negligence or recklessness of those involved through speed analysis, mechanical inspections, vehicle interior examinations, and occupant kinematics (movement) studies.
Many of these cases largely consist of trace evidence, hair, blood patterns, finger prints, and exchange of substances during impact. Collecting and analyzing DNA is an integral part of the processing of interior components, especially when proving the identity of the driver is essential to the case.
The Crash Investigation Team provides educational seminars for Fire and Police Departments as well as vehicle recovery agents. The seminars introduce major accident scene investigation, from crime scene analysis through the investigative process and building a criminal case. Students review several crash scenes focusing on roadway evidence and debris. Items of interest from the obvious (such as tire marks and vehicle damage) to remote fragile items (such as glass, paint chips and fibers) are discussed in detail and stressing the importance of preservation of the evidence. Students are given introductory knowledge of how each piece of the crash scene, in and out of the vehicle, plays an important role in determining causation, the criminal investigation process, and successful prosecution. These introductory seminars have proven effective in making first responders aware of their vital role in the preservation of evidence.