Ashley Browder, 21, killed on 2/10/13 around 2:30 AM as a passenger, while Lindsay Browder, 19, her younger sister and the driver of the 2001-era white Honda CR-V, broke her hip and fractured her spine. Browder was an Air National Guard member. The crash occurred at Eagle Ranch NW and Paseo del Norte intersection in Albuquerque. They were impacted by a 2008-era Chevrolet Tahoe (police edition) driven by off-duty APD Sargeant Adam Casaus, 21.
According to Casaus, he was westbound on Paseo del Norte and was using lights and sirens while driving to find a suspected drunk driver. He went through a red light at approximately 65 mph. He then impacted the CR-V, which was northbound on Eagle Ranch in the intersection, in the passenger side. Ashley died at the scene, while Lindsay was seriously injured. Casaus called in the crash, noting that he had a laceration to his head and some chest pain.
It was soon revealed by APD dispatch records that Casaus had never reported the alleged chase, while witnesses indicated they had never seen a driver. Investigators also determined that the CR-V had not been speeding, and that Casaus had not had his siren or lights activated. In other words, he was completely lying. He was fired on May 24th and charged with reckless vehicular homicide.
This is an unfortunate case of a public safety officer who violated a number of legal and ethical principles (abusing his department-issued vehicle, speeding, running a red light, providing several false statements...) in effort to get away with vehicular homicide. In terms of the vehicle analysis, the fatality occurred because he ran the red light, was speeding, and collided with a vehicle that had the right of way.
The 2001-era CR-V weighed ~3214 lbs and did not come with a side impact score or side airbags. It would have received a "poor" or "marginal" side rating due to the lack of airbags and high degree of cabin intrusion (as was visible in the 2002-era CR-V). It was impacted by a police-modified 2008-era Tahoe, which weighed at least 5524 lbs. That's 167% of the weight of the simulated vehicle in the IIHS side impact test.
Given the likely speeds of the collision (~65 mph), the collision likely imparted at least 1.06MJ of energy into the CR-V. The standard side impact test simulates 143KJ of energy (a 3300-lb sled impacting a vehicle at 31 mph). In other words, Ashley faced 741% of the force she'd have experienced in the types of crashes cars are side rated for. Given the speed of the collision and the lack of airbags and structural integrity of the CR-V, her odds of survival were, sadly, virtually non-existent.
It is noteworthy, though not unexpected, that there is significant damage to the front of the Tahoe but there appears to be a minimal amount of cabin intrusion. The same cannot be said the side of the CR-V, where there is a significant amount of intrusion, the A frame is severely compromised, and the roof is buckled.
This collision was completely preventable, and it is a tragedy that a young life was cut short by reckless driving. Casaus is scheduled to go on trial this September.
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