Investigators are always looking for the best way to figure out how a car crashed or why a person died in a collision, and on Thursday they turned to Eastern Washington University students for some help.
They're always trying to piece together the story: How did a woman lose control and crash into another car? How did a truck roll over, killing the driver? It's exactly what they had to do when Shaun Kimm crashed in Spokane Valley.
"I wrecked my motorcycle in a car," Kimm said.
Spokane County Sheriff's Detective Dave Thornburg investigated it, trying to figure out why Kimm ended up in the intensive care unit. What the two men didn't expect was to be back together nearly 10 years later.
They're testing an accelerometer that Kimm and his fellow EWU students built. The accelerometer measures how fast a car speeds up or slows down and will be used to reconstruct accidents.
Thornburg said the accelerometer could assist investigators in a vehicular homicide trial, but it could also help when doing crash reconstructions to determine whether or not a driver is at fault.
Before heading out to any crash it has to be tested. They did around half a dozen tests Thursday, and they'll take the data and compare it to a commercial accelerometer to see if the numbers match up. Then the accelerometer will be handed over to the sheriff's office to use in situations like the one Kimm was in 10 years ago.
So how did Detective Thornburg end up collaborating with EWU students on this project? It turns out he's getting a mechanical engineering degree at Eastern, which helped spur the collaboration between him and the students.
Thornburg says the students' accelerometer costs around $200; the one they borrowed for comparison from the Idaho State Police cost approximately $1,000.