New Mexico State Police can now get a more accurate layout of serious crashes and are able to clear them faster.
“It cuts back on the scene investigation time at least 50%,” said Sergeant Lauren Milligan, with the New Mexico State Police Crash Reconstruction Unit.
Back in 2017, NMSP started using a drone to take aerial photographs of DWI crashes with injuries, and other crashes where people were seriously hurt.
“The further up you get in the air the better photographs you take,” said Milligan.
Ever since, they’ve been working to advance what they can do with the aerial pictures and videos. First, officers learned to manipulate the images to make them brighter. So, pictures taken at 2 a.m. can look like they were taken in the middle of the afternoon.
“We got the tech and [then] we just gotta figure out how to use it,” said Milligan.
Recently, officers started using a new computer program that lets them turn pictures and videos taken of crash scenes into a 3D model.
“The impact occurred here,” said Milligan, as he pointed to the screen showing a horrible 2017 crash scene.
Back in 2017, Luke Griffin drove drunk down I-25 at more than 100 mph. He rear-ended a car filled with three women, ultimately killing the driver.
“We can see where the final rest of the vehicles were. There was still a lot of debris from the victim’s vehicle,” said Milligan.
In the program, Milligan can even drag Griffin’s car back onto the road and see how he caused both cars to spin out.
“The vehicles continue and they’re rotating, so that’s why you see all these different tire marks,” said Milligan.
Milligan says this work makes a difference for everyone, like people stuck on a shutdown interstate, as well as the families of the people caught up in the crash.
“It helps us to map the scene quickly,” said Milligan.
Before the drone, officers had to call a fire truck and climb up its ladder to take aerial pictures.
Six officers are trained to fly the drone and they’re stationed all over the state.