In response to a number of inquires regarding traffic restrictions related to yesterday's fatal collision on Circle Drive, the Saskatoon Police Service Traffic Unit would like to apprise the public of the following:
The police must assume all crashes are crime scenes and treat them as such; this means collision investigators must carefully and systematically preserve and collect evidence of what has occurred. The police must never arrive at a crash, assume one person is responsible and employ shortcuts in the investigation; the courts have established standards of investigational competence for police departments and the police can be held civilly liable.
The location of the collision factors in to traffic control. Where possible traffic may be diverted through ditches and around the crash site. This was not possible in yesterdays crash. Medians, curbing, on and off ramps, all come in to play when deciding what alternate traffic routes to incorporate into alternatives. The location of yesterdays crash was such that alternatives were very limited.
Scene examination is challenging because collisions are outdoors and are affected by environmental conditions - not just rain and snow, but wind and even lighting. Yesterday, weather conditions were working against us. Crash scenes, unlike crime scenes which occur indoors in confined areas, are large; investigators must spend time examining the entire area as small items (such as scrapes in asphalt or paint chips) can be critical pieces of evidence. In yesterday's case, police were dealing with a scene that was essentially two football fields in length and included on north bound lane as well as both southbound lanes of Circle Drive.
Crash scenes include multiple public service agencies, all of whom are physically entering onto a scene under police control; includes Ambulance, Fire, Coroner, Funeral Transport, and even City services (traffic control) - we spend time taking care to ensure physical evidence is preserved while facilitating these agencies to perform their duties
Crash scene examination involves much more than just personal observation; photography is employed at ground level as well as aerial, forensic maps are created to assist the post-scene investigation when determining vehicle and driver actions; measurements are key in attempting to determine vehicle speeds as the question of speed is often foremost asked by courts, coroner, etc.
The coroner's office is involved where fatalities occur and their duties are greatly assisted when the police can perform a full collision reconstruction (above the day-to-day collision attendance).
Fatal collisions involve a unique complication - one of the persons involved is unable to provide a witness statement to explain how & why a collision occurred. As such, careful investigational procedure is even more important.
The families of the deceased will always have questions; part of our job is address their concerns and provide the answers they deserve.
The police attended to 33 collisions yesterday. Several of these collision took place at a time and in locations that further affected the gridlock associated with this collision. Traffic can further be affected by motorists stopping in the roadway to observe the collision scene.
We hope this information provides a glimpse in to what is involved with crash scene investigation and thank the public for the patience and cooperation.