Why did a vehicle catch fire after it struck a tree near the intersection of Conestoga Drive and Elmwood Ave in Brampton in the early hours of Saturday, August 20, 2022? Three persons in the vehicle perished. Did they die because of the impact force or because of the fire? Is that important?
Some news media, such as CP24 News, provided photos of the vehicle and the collision site along with their articles. But those photos are copyrighted. So they cannot be shown in an independent site such as ours. And if we had something of importance to convey to the public that could relate to their safety we could not do that with examples from this collision site.
What we can convey, in words, is that the vehicle appeared to strike the tree head-on without any post-impact rotation or travel. So all the pre-impact kinetic energy was dissipated at impact. This would have been a revelation 30 years ago because it would have been an obvious sign of someone attempting to commit suicide. In olden days when vehicles were not equipped with electronic stability control they would travel around a curve, rotate, and then strike a tree with their sides. Although this was not helpful it was sometimes preferable because the impact as not always central, resulting in a less-severe change-in-velocity and allowed some of the vehicle’s kinetic energy to be dissipated in non-harmful post-impact rotation and sliding to rest.
What we see in the present collision is suggestive of the infamous Princess Diana collision of her Mercedes in a Paris tunnel in 1997. That Mercedes was equipped with a primitive, mechanical, stability control system which caused it to straighten out after initial contact with Fiat Uno. While straightening out is often desirable it can also be lethal and undesirable. And these matters need to be discussed.
Another bit of fact is that of Newton’s Third Law of Motion which states that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”, might apply here. Rephrased, it means that when the front end of a vehicle is crushed by the impact of a tree, the severity of that impact is not only displayed in the crush of the vehicle, it is also displayed in the damage to the tree. So if we have a severe impact it should be displayed in severe damage to the tree. As much as officials covered up the vehicle with a blue tarp they did not cover up the tree. And some closer views of the tree which were shown by other news media after the damaged vehicle was removed showed less than expected damage except for scaring from the flames. The result is that either this tree was very robust and made of iron, or the impact was not as severe such that three occupants should have perished from the impact force.
Next we are informed by police and news media that the reason why the vehicle crashed is unknown and no one can speculate. Well up to now speculation has not be against the law. And if speculation must be applied because no meaningful information has been revealed, then we will speculate. None of the site photos helped to demonstrate that Conestoga Drive contains a sweeping curve as it approaches Elmvale Ave. And in such circumstances is it very common for vehicles to go out of control and travel to the outside of the curve, as is what happened in the present circumstance. But why did this happen? A single overhead photo provided by CP24 News showed the surface of the Conestoga Drive for some distance before the tree impact. In the corner of that photo, which is furthest away from the impact, the condition of the road surface could been as heavily cracked and possibly patched. If one looked at a current view of the road surface on Googlemaps, which is often several years old, one would see that the road surface was in poor condition. We are not able to travel to the collision site and examine the road. And the police and news media, in their goodness, have not provided a view of the road surface on approach to the tree impact. So, beyond the heightened speed of the vehicle, and or perhaps the inexperience of its driver, was the cause of the collision due to a loss-of-control due to the poor condition of the road surface? We will not know. And this is speculation. But it is speculation from a lot of past experience in examining thousands of serious collisions.
As the State Farm Insurance commercial says “You’re in good hands”. No need to pursue what really happened because you will never know. And without remediation the next, multiple-fatal collision is just around the next future curve.