Fall from a Balcony—Accidental or Homicidal? Reconstruction by Numerical Simulation*

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In the case presented, conflicting witness accounts and the subject's injuries were highly suspicious of an assault that might have caused the balcony fall. For the reconstruction, a simulation software, originally designed for motor vehicle accident reconstruction, was used. Three scenarios were simulated using the PC-Crash multibody pedestrian model: (S1) Subject was pushed against and fell over balcony rail, (S2) subject fell off from a seated position, (S3) subject fell off from a prone position on the rail. (S1) could be ruled out due to inconsistent results in terms of landing area and minimum velocity. Realistic results were obtained for (S3) with a fall off from a prone position on the rail. After a few months, the comatose subject awoke and gave an account of what had happened being consistent with the simulation results. This case demonstrates the feasibility of multibody simulations also in cases of nontraffic incidents.

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