BOSTON - Investigators are doing a deep dive into what caused a driver to crash his SUV into the Hingham Apple store, killing one person and injuring more than a dozen others.
"My first thought when I heard about it was operator error," said Ross Panacopoulos, who spent more than 20 years as a State Police crash reconstructionist. He has since retired and is now teaching municipalities like Hingham police how to investigate deadly car accidents.
"I believe the operator stated that his shoe got stuck on the accelerator and then he was using his left foot to apply the brake," Panacopoulos said. "That would show up on the download of the EDR (event data recorder) to see if that's truly what he was really doing."
Bradley Rein, 53, isby motor vehicle and reckless operation of a motor vehicle. His attorney said the crash was an "unfortunate accident."
The event data recorder, or so-called "black box" inside the Toyota 4Runner will reveal what happened in the moments leading up to the crash that killed 65-year-old Kevin Bradley and injured 21 others inside of the Apple store.
"That's going to tell them the speed of the vehicle. That's also going to tell them the engine speed, the RPMs. That's also going to tell the angles of the acceleration," Panacopoulos said.
Gathering all of the evidence, both from the crash site and the vehicle itself, another accident investigator says, will help determine whether this was driver error, a car malfunction or a combination of both.
"Toyota has a long history of unintended acceleration problems that date back to the mid-2000s," said Sean Kane, of Safety Research and Strategies. "You can't take the complexities of today's motor vehicle and expect anomalous behaviors not to occur."
Kane says most modern cars have multiple other devices that also record information.
Police will have to look at the data along with surveillance video and other evidence to determine to the best of their ability whether this was an accident or intentional.
"It's another part of the puzzle that helps you stitch it all together," Kane said.
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