Scanning technology helps bring answers to Shoreham tragedy

Posted by pt91 at Sep 15, 2015 01:14 PM |
Forensic expertise at University of Leicester joins team identifying victims of air crash

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 15 September 2015

Photograph of the incident aircraft from a previous occasion available from: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/2rpyc5jhhxdhdca/AABurvl0bZXGVXYPdnmHTJtna?dl=0

Cutting-edge scanning technology was used to help identify victims of the crash at the Shoreham Air Show.

Forensic pathologist Dr Michael Biggs from the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit, based at the University of Leicester, undertook the post-mortem examinations following the recent tragedy. His familiarity with post-mortem CT scanning allowed information to be obtained quickly and without the need to resort to invasive techniques.

He formed part of the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team at the invitation of the West Sussex Senior Coroner. DVI is an internationally recognised system for efficiently and reliably recovering and identifying individuals who have died during a mass fatality event.  The process requires large numbers of specialists from different backgrounds who have been trained specifically for their respective DVI roles.

The East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit has an established track record of providing DVI assistance both within the UK and overseas, and regularly contributes to regional and national DVI training programmes. In addition to a large team of police officers and staff from HM Coroner’s office, he worked alongside a forensic anthropologist and forensic odontologist within the mortuary.

Dr Biggs said: “In the acute phase of the response to such an event, people are desperate for information and answers to their questions.  It is vital that the DVI process is carried out as quickly as possible, but also in a reliable manner so that no errors are made.

“Whilst CT scanning is a relatively recent addition to the DVI process, we at Leicester have considerable expertise in this area.  By bringing our own forensic radiographer to assist with the scanning process, and our anthropologist with practical experience in CT-based anthropological data, the Leicester team was able to contribute significantly to the speed and efficiency of the DVI process.”

The efforts of all the specialists involved in the DVI team led to a swift outcome for the victim identification component of the investigation, and Dr Biggs has praised the cohesiveness and professionalism of his colleagues in this case.

He added: “The entire team worked well together, and was able to achieve successful identification outcomes within a short timescale considering the challenging conditions present in this case.  It was a privilege to have been able to work with such a dedicated group of people and to see a combination of training, expertise and new technology pulling together for a common purpose.”

Ends

Notes to editors:

Due to the sensitive nature of this incident, and the need for ongoing investigation, further specific details cannot be released.  Any general enquiries can be directed to Dr Biggs at mb614@le.ac.uk

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