Software turns skid marks to video clip in accident reconstruction

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News 12 at 11 / Monday, Dec. 17, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The crash has already happened, but these deputies are back at the scene. They're members of the Richmond County Star Team, recreating the whole thing.

"They have to plot places, where things are, where skid marks are, the variables involved, everything from barometric pressure to temperature to dry coefficients of friction of the roadway," said Michael Cardenaz, JD Paugh Memorial Foundation co-founder.

Retracing steps with pinpoint accuracy is something Cardenaz knows very well.

"I used to do it when I worked [at the Richmond County Sheriff's Office], but we used tape measures and nails that we put in the ground," he remembered.

These days, the team has graduated to lasers and digital equipment.

"Accident reconstruction is very technical. It's a very disciplined art form almost," Cardenaz said.

Soon the team will have something new. It's a state of the art software system called Aras 360. It's something the department has wanted for a while, but budgetary constraints have kept them from buying it.

"It can give them a video, a three-dimensional video of exactly how the accident occurred," Cardenaz described.

"You can see it from the driver's point of view, you can see it from any point of view you want to," added Lt. Ramone Lamkin, RCSO Traffic Commander.

Deputies say it will be a useful tool in court. Instead of diagrams or confusing terms like "dry coefficients of friction," the jury will get to see a movie-like clip of the recreated accident as if someone had been there catching it on camera.

"It's more understandable and easier to prove your point," Cardenaz said.

For Lt. Lamkin, this software will also help keep his guys on the road safer.

"It's going to reduce the man hours they have to spend actually going and recreating the scene. That's going to be a lot of hours. Ten to twelve hours easy just reducing the man hours," he said.

That keeps the deputies off the road and out of the busy and dangerous intersections.

It's a donation that gives full circle in the name of a former traffic division deputy.

"It means a lot especially since he was in the traffic division. I knew JD Paugh when I was a trooper and when I was here before, and he loved traffic," Lt. Lamkin said. "It's just something to give back."

The software has been purchased and should be in the deputies' hands by the end of this week.