Comparative Human Identification in two
Charred Cars Accidents
Yasmin Comoti Vita Bantim1, Eduardo Daruge Júnior2, Alexandre Rodrigues Freire3, Ana Cláudia Rossi3, Felippe Bevilacqua Prado3 and Gilberto Paiva de Carvalho4*
1Department of Surgery an Integrated Clinic, São Paulo State - University UNESP, Araçatuba, Brazil
2Department of Social Odontology, Piracicaba Dental School, University of Campinas, UNICAMP, Brazil
3 Department of Morphology, Anatomy Division, Piracicaba Dental School, University of Campinas, UNICAMP, Brazil
4 Nursing College, Federal University of Roraima, Brazil
Submission:September 5, 2019; Published: September 19, 2019
*Corresponding author:Gilberto Paiva de Carvalho, Federal University of Roraima, Institute of Legal Medicine - IML-RR, Civil Police of Roraima, Boa Vista, Roraima, Brazil
How to cite this article: Yasmin Comoti Vita Bantim, Eduardo Daruge Júnior, Alexandre Rodrigues Freire, Ana Cláudia Rossi, Felippe Bevilacqua Prado,
Gilberto Paiva de Carvalho. Comparative Human Identification in two Charred Cars Accidents. J Forensic Sci & Criminal Inves. 2019; 12(4): 555844.
The carbonization of a body due to a vehicle accident can require human identification through examination of the dental arches. The aim of this study was to analyze two cases of automobile accidents, each with three burnt victims, and to determine way in which the individuals were identified. This was a retrospective, exploratory, descriptive study with qualitative data analysis. The investigation used data from examination reports carried out by the Legal Medicine Institute of Roraima, Brazil. Two accidents involving pickup trucks occurred, one in 2011 and another in 2015. In each accident, there were three passengers who were charred. The cases were classified as fact A and B, and the reports were studied, seeking information about the material forwarded for identification and highlighting the information used for successful or unsuccessful human identification. Accidents denominated as fact A and B presented three bodies each, classified as A1, A2, or A3 and B1, B2 or B3. There were two male and one female in fact A, and in fact B, three male individuals. Dental records were sent for cases A1 and A3 by including a photograph of a gypsum model for A1 and a dental description for A3. Cases B1 and B2 were studied based on dental records, and in the B2 case, a radiograph of the foot was presented. Cases A2 and B3 had no dental records. The comparative study of cases of carbonized bodies with similar origins, automobile accidents, made it possible to verify congruence in the identification methods, which were carried out by scientific dental comparison. Whether there was insufficient information, another technique must be applied.
Keywords: Human identification; Forensic dentistry; Carbonization
Forensic dentists play an important role in human identification, bite mark analysis, maxillofacial trauma, and malpractice and can be extremely important in the process of grief resolution for a victim’s family and friends .Teeth and dental traits are recognized as one of the most valuable individualizing features of the human body, and dentists are in an ideal position to provide the needed skills and expertise to accurately identify humans . Forensic dentistry plays an important role in the identification of decomposed and charred bodies, such as victims of drowning, burns and aviation accidents . In charred bodies, facial recognition is often impossible and digital identification may be impossible because of its degree of destruction . In many cases, craniofacial identification of burnt bodies can be achieved using only the cranial structures not destroyed by thermal injuries. Previous studies presented
two case reports about men found in burnt cars. Radiographies was used in human identification. The first case used all morphologic features observed for teeth and the frontal sinus for positive identification. In the other case, only a few fragments of the jaw were essential for identification. Details present in the molar roots from an endodontic treatment were present in post-mortem radiography .
Dental and radiographic procedures are powerful methods when dealing with burn victims. In an accident involving a bus, 28 victims were charred, and the advantages and limitations of the identification methods were presented. Dental identification was used in 57% of cases, and in 43% of these, the structures were destroyed or there was no ante-mortem documentation for comparison. The authors recommended that dental procedures should be used for human identification after mass disasters . Dental examination based on prior documentation is reliable
and faster when records are available, allowing a body release
for customary funeral procedures. Thus, study of identification
methods for human victims was carried out in two cases
of similar automobile accidents and is important to guide
academic education as well as to reiterate the need for adequate
production and storage of dental records. The aim of this study
was to analyze two cases of automobile accidents with three
burnt victims in each of the disasters and the ways in which the
victims were identified.
This was a retrospective, exploratory descriptive study
with qualitative data analysis. The investigation used data from
examination reports carried out by the Legal Medicine Institute
of Roraima, Brazil. Two accidents involving pickup trucks
occurred, one in 2011 and another in 2015. In each accident,
there were three passengers who were charred. The cases were
classified as fact A and B, and the reports were studied, seeking
information about the material forwarded for identification and
highlighting the information used for successful or unsuccessful
human identification. The analyzed variables were sex, age,
cause of death, material presented for the identification process
and method of identification. The data were recorded and
analyzed in Microsoft Excel®.
Accidents denominated as facts A and B presented three
bodies each, which were classified as A1, A2, or A3 and B1,
B2 or B3. There were two male and one female in fact A, and
in fact B, three male individuals. The causes of death were
primarily by thermal action with carbonization of the bodies:
four deaths were by thermal action with carbonization, and two
bodies presented blunt trauma to the head with carbonization
occurring as a later cause. Fact B, with deaths due to head
trauma, presented as a fallen tree on the vehicle. Dental records
were sent for cases A1 (Figure 1) and A3, including a photograph
of a gypsum model for A1 and a dental description for A3. Cases
B1 and B2 were studied based on dental records, and in case B2,
a foot radiograph was presented. Cases A2 (Figure 2) and B3 had
no dental records (Table 1).
Human identification by the dental method can avoid the
application of the DNA profiling method in cases of carbonized
bodies [6,7] as well as in the identification of a body in the final
phase of putrefaction and the beginning of skeletonization
. In both facts, the positive identification of three cases
was performed through the study of dental arches and foot
radiography. The majority of deaths were male individuals,
corroborating the records of accidents of vehicles with male
victims . The fact A victims had a mean age of 50.6 years,
similar to the 50.7-year average age in fact B, with no significant
difference between the two groups. There were no young people
in the accidents, distancing these accidents from the age group
more prone to death by automobile accidents. Thus, it was
observed that these facts occurred randomly. Two bodies (A2
and B3) were not identified due to an absence of dental records.
Case A1 presented a dental record and images of a gypsum model
that served as the basis for the planning of implant surgeries.
Case A3 received a dental record from a description of treatment
signed by a dental surgeon.
Case B1 had dental records indicating care between the
years 2003 and 2014, with a prosthesis procedure. Case B2 was
represented by observations of a fixed prosthesis, but a single
record was insufficient for identification. This fact corresponds
to the American Board of Forensic Odontology’s (ABFO)
guidelines that if there are 5 coincidences or less, there is a need
for other techniques to determine identity . Even though
a retrospective study analyzing 690 skills affirms that there is
no basis for the definition of a minimum number of points of
coincidence necessary to carry out a positive identification
through dental evidence and that each case has its specific
particularities  our study showed that only one item, which
could only be sufficient if there was adequate registration, did
not occur. Still, according to ABFO guidelines, the radiograph
of the right foot allowed another radiographic comparison
technique to be performed. The scientific literature affirms the
importance of dental records [12-14] and dental records were
instrumental in achieving a positive identification. The dental
record is indispensable for the administrative control of dental
activity and is efficiently provided to support the scientific
process of dental comparison in cases where unrecognizable
bodies are referred for study. In addition, it also lends itself to
decreasing the necessary time for case analysis.
Identification procedures performed by four odontologists
were finalized after a total of 90 hours for a bus accident in
Spain, in which 28 charred victims were examined. Thus, the
mean time required for identification by victim was 3 hours of
work . Dental identification is accurate and can be performed
quickly when information prior to death is available, especially
when information related to teeth care is available, and the
dental records are accessible.
The average study time for fact A was 01 hour and 49
minutes, and that for fact B was 03 hours and 33 minutes. Dental
documentation made quickly by the family members allowed
a quick analysis of the A1 case. The A2 case had a minimum
time of 24 minutes due to the absence of ante-mortem records.
The A3 case was developed over a duration of 04 hours and
13 minutes. The observation of the photographic records
demonstrated that because of the extensive destruction of the
anatomical structures, the skill lengthened for a longer period.
Fact B presented average times superior to those for fact A. The
reception of ante mortem documentation was fundamental for
identification over a short time. Carbonized bodies in vehicles,
whether by crime or accident, are not rare. In these facts, the
thermal action changed the external structures and, depending
on the time and intensity, damaged the internal ones as well.
Teeth are protected by the epidermis, dermis, subcutaneous
tissues and muscle tissues that provide important barriers when
heat transforms these tissues. In these processes, bodies become
unrecognizable, and the preservation of hard tissues such as the
teeth may establish them as the fulcrum of the scientific process
of human identification.
The processes of dental identification carried out on these
cases were successful because the dental records of the victims
were present, facilitating every method of identification. Thus,
the results indicate that the routing of the dental records
was fundamental, delivering decisive information sufficient
for positive identification. The comparative study of cases of
carbonized bodies with similar origins, automobile accidents,
made it possible to verify congruence in the identification
methods, which was carried out by scientific dental comparison.
In the case where insufficient information was present,
another technique was applied. Therefore, it is important that
the forensic scientist is made aware of the possibility of other
methods beyond dental exams. Accurate documentation will
ensure that the examination is completed swiftly and that the suffering of families is minimized, at least in the first mandatory
phase of establishing the identity of unrecognizable bodies.