Mapping of accident scene helps Virginia State Police Crash Team determine the facts

July 30, 2013

A few days after a fatal head-on collision on U.S. 58, a Virginia State Police Crash Team was busy mapping the accident to gather valuable information as to what transpired.

“We have a survey-grade instrument that we map the scene with. It provides us the elevation, pitch and banking of the road, shows the impact area and marks made by the automobiles, and accurate measurements from the point of impact to the point of rest of the automobiles involved,” said Trooper Allen Kelly.

“It’s a valuable tool for us. It gives us something tangible we can take into court with the photographs.”

Depending on how many vehicles are involved and whether the accident happened in a rural or urban setting, the process can last from a couple of hours to all day.

Since the accident on U.S. 58 involved just two cars and happened in a rural setting, the team mapped 65 points. Some accidents can result in 200 to 300 points.

“It just depends on the road and the crash scene itself,” said Kelly. “Normally, we don’t map a scene unless there’s a fatality or it’s a crime or drug scene.”

Once the accident is mapped, the information is uploaded to a computer, along with the other evidence, so it can be presented in court.

The accident that was being mapped occurred on July 7 one-tenth of a mile from the Snake Creek Bridge. According to Trooper R.D. Horton, a 1996 Ford Van operated by James A. Martin of Columbus, Ohio, crossed the center line and struck a 2009 GMC Sierra pickup driven by Mark C. Brostek of Auburn Township, Ohio.

Five people were transported to area hospitals, while Brostek was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Assisting Kelly in the mapping were fellow Division IV Crash Team members Ronnie Stiltner, Duane Blackburn, Alan Vaughan and Chris Wyrick. Kelly, who is headquartered in Washington County, and his crew handle accidents from “the New River from the Pulaski County/Montgomery County line to Lee County and up to Bland,” said Kelly.