What Kind Of Car Hits A Rock Wall At 92MPH And Lets The Driver Walk Away? You Know The Answer
Talk about adding (mild) insult to (even milder) injury. Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray was recently fined $555 for causing a single-vehicle crash. The single vehicle was his own. The circumstances are almost too bizarre to be believed — and the jury is still out on what actually happened.
Mr. Murray was driving every sensible TTAC reader’s dream car: a government-provided 2007 Crown Victoria. We don’t know if it was the P71 Police Interceptor or the P72 Taxi/Commerical (often sold on eBay as the “P72 Undercover Package”) model, but either way… it was awesome.
“Black box” data released by Massachusetts State Police indicate that, in the 20 seconds before the crash, Mr. Murray accelerated to 108 miles per hour then drove off the road, flew through the air, and struck a rock ledge at 92MPH. He was not wearing a seatbelt. To the surprise of no one familiar with the extraordinary capabilities of the Panther platform, the lieutenant governor was more or less unharmed. Transitory g-forces experienced by the Vic exceeded 40g, which is what we call “serious bizness” in the auto safety bizness, which itself is quite serious.
Before someone told him that there was such a thing as a “black box”, Mr. Murray blamed the accident on “black ice”. AC/DC, the band which released Black Ice in 2008, had no comment. After said data was released and reviewed, Mr. Murray said he “accepted” the theory put forth by state police — that he had fallen asleep behind the wheel and merrily careened through the air into solid rock, safe as a baby in the arms of Ford’s mightiest full-sized vehicle — and, in fact, wanted to pay the $555 fine immediately. Presumably, something was said about “moving on”, which is what people always say when they’ve done something they would simply bury yo’ ass for doing if they caught you doing it.
Not so fast, Lieutenant Governor! James Verhasselt of the Accident Analysis Group of Northampton told the Daily Hamsphire Gazette that
I don’t see evidence here of someone asleep… I don’t see anything to support that theory.
The Gazette notes
What’s puzzling to accident reconstruction experts like the Accident Analysis Group of Northampton is that someone who falls asleep at the wheel is not likely to be hitting the gas pedal with some force, which Murray’s car data shows occurred twice in 10 seconds leading up to the crash, including the flooring of the gas pedal at around 95 mph about five seconds before impact.
“How can you fall asleep and willfully hit the gas pedal twice?” asked chief analyst David Pesuit.
Obviously that Black Ice record rocks so hard it makes you jam the throttle in your sleep. A second consulting firm also offered a dissenting opinion:
Bruce McNally, an accident reconstruction expert from McNally & Associates in New Hampshire, also reviewed the black box data on behalf of the Boston Herald and told that newspaper the evidence suggests Murray was not sleeping at the time he wrecked the Crown Victoria.
“Just a couple seconds before losing control, he floors it,” McNally told the Herald in a story this week. “That’s not typical of a driver who falls asleep. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it occur. A typical driver who falls asleep, their foot would come off the pedal.”
Take it up with Angus Young, Mr. McNally. Thank God the Lieutenant Governor wasn’t listening to Dirty Deeds Done Dirty Cheap, as he probably would have blasted his Crown Vic to 130mph or beyond, briefly achieved low Earth orbit off a conveniently placed “Dukes of Hazzard” dirt ramp, and struck the rock face hard enough to knock some sense into his head.
It’s worth noting that the state police released the black box data at Mr. Murray’s request, probably because he was tired of emailing it to people so they could see how cool the whole thing had been. “I recognize,” he said in a press conference last week, “I should have been more careful.” Here at TTAC, we would like to suggest that Mr. Murray be given a Dodge Charger fleet car next, just to prevent any more pressure on the already-dwindling population of Panthers in Massachusetts.
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