3-D imaging to help investigators look for cause in fatal Riverdale plane crash

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SALT LAKE CITY — Rapidly spinning a lens, a FARO camera captured detailed images in a demonstration outside the Utah State Bureau of Investigation offices Monday.

"It's sending out lasers, collecting thousands of points," Sgt. Tanner Jensen explained. "Whereas if I were to use a tape measure, I'd collect in an hour, maybe 50 points, 50 measurements."

Instead, the FARO 3-D scanner captures thousands upon thousands of points in just seconds.

The Utah Highway Patrol adopted the technology back in 2014, using it to map out crash and crime scenes. Since then, Jensen said several additional agencies in Utah picked it up for the same reasons. The technology that was initially designed for engineering firms was used to collect data after a deadly plane crash along I-15 in Riverdale on July 26 that took the life of four adults — Layne and Diana Clarke and Perry and Sarah Huffaker.

"It's really become an important part of crime scenes for us," Jensen said. "You're not sure what you're looking at first. Sometimes you're not sure until after the crime scene is released, and by that time the information is lost."

Using 3-D software, Jensen said investigators can virtually return to the scene and collect data that wasn't initially picked up on the day of an incident.

"These points are correct down to a millimeter," he said. "Looking at a 3-D image, much like a video game, gives you a really good opportunity to see what happened and how."

Jensen said he often uses the data to present to juries in criminal cases. In the case of this plane crash, the images are being handed over to the Federal Aviation Administration to aid in their investigation, which can take between 12 to 18 months.

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