RAY BROOK — So far this year, State Police Troop B’s Collision Reconstruction Unit has responded to 39 accidents, 24 of which involved fatalities.
The seven-member team is part of the troop’s Forensic Identification Unit, made up of investigators and troopers who are in charge of accident reconstruction in Clinton, Franklin, Essex, St. Lawrence and Hamilton counties.
The unit responds to accidents and locations of crimes to create digital maps. It reconstructs what happened using electronic and robotic total-work stations that mark the location of evidence and record it in a diagram that can be used in a criminal case.
“The No. 1 contributing factor (in such accidents) is speed,” Troop B Bureau of Criminal Investigation Lt. Scott Heggleke said Wednesday at a media demonstration at Troop B headquarters.
He said alcohol ranks No. 2.
One of the deciding factors for dispatching the Reconstruction Unit is the likelihood of criminal prosecution, because a fatal accident is handled as a death investigation, like a homicide, Heggleke said.
The Collision Reconstruction Unit doesn’t just reconstruct motor-vehicle accidents. The team works double duty on the Forensic Identification Unit, mapping evidence on homicide cases.
Most recently, it used its total-work stations to map where the body of Dale S. Jarvis Sr., 48, was found, buried in his backyard at 14 White St. in Chateaugay. On Tuesday, his son Dale “D.J.” Jarvis Jr., pleaded guilty to manslaughter for, in February, striking his father in the head with a sledgehammer, killing him and then hiding his body.
The Collision Reconstruction Unit allows State Police to free up other investigators to do interviews and collect other evidence, Heggleke said.
“The best thing about it is we can re-create a scene, whether it’s tomorrow or 10 years from now,” he said, and that way if there is ever the need to introduce evidence in court, it’s there to back it up.