Forensic Engineering Investigation of a Fatal Farm Tractor Incident
AbstractA farm owner was found unresponsive with crushing head injuries on his property in rural Ontario. His small farm tractor was found 60 meters away down a small incline with the engine running and transmission in neutral. The owner’s son alleged that when the parking brake was engaged (with the engine running and transmission in neutral), this tractor’s parking brake would “pop out,” allowing the tractor to move. Field tests were conducted on the tractor to attempt to duplicate the scenario and to determine if the alleged sequence of events was plausible. Components of the parking brake and one exemplar were assessed with specialized metrology to determine whether they were within the manufacturing specifications on the blueprint. A 3-D CAD model of fit was created, and several variances were identified between the parts and the factory drawing. The results of the analysis concurred with the scenario that these variances led to the disengagement of the parking brake and operator fatality.
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