Highway collisions are a common occurrence in the Golden area, which is why the local RCMP Detachment is happy to now have a full time Forensic Collision Reconstructionist.
Cpl. Mike Jacobson has been with the RCMP for 24 years, and has spent the last one here in Golden investigating collisions.
“When I started with the RCMP my first training officer was a collisions analyst, so I always knew it was something I wanted to do,” said Jacobson, who has undergone the special training to be able to analyze collision sites and reconstruct what happened.
“Through my career I was working towards it, and was actually a support analyst in Alberta.”
Jacobson moved to B.C., and put that goal on the back burner while raising his family, but returned to it after his kids grew up. He has been working full time as analyst for the past two years, and was thrilled to take the position here in Golden last fall.
“A few people applied for the job, and I was very fortunate to get it,” he said. Jacobson had been serving Golden since the previous winter, but was working out of Vernon and would have to travel to get to the crash scenes.
A Forensic Collision Reconstructionist gets called to accidents where there is serious injury or a fatality, survey’s the scene and collects evidence, and prepares the reports for court and for the coroners office.
There’s no way to predict how busy he will be, but Jacobson has already been through a few busy periods.
“The first six weeks I was here there were six collisions, so that was a really busy start,” he said.
The reason it is so important for the Golden Detachment to have a full time analyst is to keep road closure times as short as possible. Clean up crews can’t begin clearing the road until it has been surveyed, so the longer the analyst has to travel, the longer the highway is closed.
“The goal is to get the highway open as fast as possible,” said Jacobson. Which is why he has been implementing a higher usage of photogrammetry, where he can take photos of the scene using markers, and reconstruct a 3D map on his computer.
“It adds a little extra work, but it gets me out of the scene faster.”
The Province invested in a computer system to use photogrammetry during the 2010 Olympics, and it has since helped out other detachments in B.C. More investments are being made locally, including obtaining a device for aerial photos. But the expense is high, so they are taking one step at a time.
“Keeping the highway open has definitely been identified as a priority. We understand how frustrating it can be for travellers,” said Jacobson. “But it is important that these accidents are looked into. My reports are often used in civil court proceedings. And if it was your family member involved in a crash, you would want to know what happened.”