Wednesday, August 21, 2013

USA: Michael Hasting's strange death autopsy released

It can be read at Los Angeles Times.

It is very apparent from the data that Hastings was already dead prior to the suspiciously extreme fire, most unusual for a car, that followed the accident:
The bronchi and pulmonary arteries are intact and empty.


The carbon monoxide level was below 10 volumes percent, indicating
that the decedent did not inhale the products of combustion,
consistent with an instantaneous death.

There are a number of antemortem fractures in right limbs and chest (these deadly) that suggest that he was killed by the impact almost instantly. Of these there is one that seems a bit strange to me: fracture of the right horn of the hyoid bone. 

Per Wikipedia:
Due to its position, the hyoid bone is not susceptible to easy fracture. In a suspected case of murder, a fractured hyoid strongly indicates throttling or strangulation.

However I do not feel qualified enough to judge this injury. The fact that it is only the right horn of the bone is consistent with all the limb fractures pertaining to the right side of the body, so maybe it was caused by the frontal crash itself (hitting the wheel with the neck?) but I would like a qualified opinion anyhow.

No airbag

What the autopsy does not mention is that, obviously, the safety belt and airbag did not enter in play. While using the safety belt is obviously up to the driver, the airbag should have been activated automatically, very especially in a frontal collision as was this one. 

So for some odd reason the airbag did not work. 

The right limb fractures have been reported as consistent with impact to the sole of the right foot, what seems to mean that he was actively using that foot to either speed up or trying to activate the breaks, most likely the latter.

Obviously the car is also in need of an autopsy: no breaks and no airbag are extremely suspicious and consistent with the hypothesis of electronic hacking.

The fact that Hastings' car was traveling at roughly the legal speed of 35 mph and then suddenly sped up just before the accident (see original report by San Diego 6 News) is consistent with the hypothesis of hacking, which is clearly no fantasy, as this video illustrates. 

A hacker could disable the breaks and airbag, speed up the car from 35 mph caught in the security video to the more than 100 mph that it was estimated to have at the time of the accident and even steer the wheel to hit that palm right in time. 

It is less clear how the fire could be triggered so easily. Alcohol bottles were reported by the autopsy some 15 feet (less than five meters) north of the crash but it is not clear if they were related to it in any way. 

The autoignition temperature of gasoline is 246–280 °C and the deposit is usually far from the engine (which in this case was found many meters away from the crash - how?), in the rear of the car. The chances of a car burning by a mere crash are extremely low (unlike what happens in Hollywood's action movies), as was demonstrated by the popular Mythbuster show several times.

So sincerely, I'd ask for a car autopsy.

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