Montvale,VA -Fatal car accidents leave families broken and lives shattered, but there's a group of devoted officers who pick up the pieces. They are crash scene investigators, and they work tirelessly to make sense of car accidents.
One state police officer on the team says this has been an extremely busy year for fatal accidents. ABC 13 News got to see instructors training prospective investigators on Wednesday.
They start with just pieces, tire tracks, broken headlights and a knocked over speed limit sign.
"It's like trying to putting a puzzle back together you got all these pieces after the fact," said Officer Ronnie Sitler, with the Lynchburg Police Department Traffic Safety Unit.
With no guides to lead them, investigators search the road for answers.
"We're looking for is the roadway, the condition of the roadway, the signage in the roadway, lines of a sight," said Officer Steve Saxton with the Lynchburg Police Department Traffic Safety Unit.
Saxton is one of nine officers training to in crash reconstruction at the Central Virginia Community College.
The Blue Ridge Regional Crash team also marks the roads, plots points and measures the distance from the start and finish of the crash. They work to make the pieces of this puzzle fit.
"What we're doing is we're going back and trying to put everything back the way it was prior to that crash, and determine why that crash happened," said Sitler.
They also hope to give a mother and father some closure on the loss of their son. On Wednesday, the crash team worked on the scene where 15-year-old Allen Dickenson died on Route 460 in Montvale Sunday. The scene left Dickenson's family broken and investigators even more determined to find answers.
"I think that gives us more incentive to put forth that extra effort to get all the information that we can," said First Sergeant Michael Bailey with the Virginia State Police.
He says it also makes the broken pieces of the puzzle serve some higher purpose.
"It helps provides closure so we can determine exactly what happened, and maybe help the family come to conclusions about why this happened," said Bailey.
Commonwealth's attorneys also use this information to determine charges in accidents. In order to cover large scenes, the crash team works with several different law enforcement agencies.