Traumatic asphyxia was first described in 1837 by Ollivier, who saw individuals crushed to death during mob violence (11,441-445). Information about the circumstances of the fatality assist in determining the cause of death, particularly when findings are lacking (443,446). The common theme is chest compression by an object weighing more than the victim. Classification of whether an asphyxial death is positional or traumatic hinges on the situation described (see Subheading 3.7. and ref. 416). If chest compression is considerable, then traumatic asphyxia has occurred. If the deceased assumed a particular body position resulting in neck or chest compression, then positional asphyxia is the likely scenario.
• Motor vehicle-related deaths are the most common (445). Various situations have been described:
° Motor vehicle slipped off jack during repair (443-445).
° Ejection of motor vehicle occupant and subsequent crushing by rollover (443,446).
° Front seat occupant pinned between seat and either steering wheel or dashboard
(422,443,444). ° Pedestrian run down by slowly moving car (443).
° Garbage truck compaction of homeless/intoxicated individual sleeping, or passed out in dumpster (447). ° Entanglement of clothing in driveshaft of car (448).
• Pinned or crushed by heavy machinery, construction material, falling debris, cave-in (see Subheading 3.10., Fig. 64, and refs. 441, 443-445, and 449).
• Fallen appliances, furniture (particularly children [443,450]). This has been described as a means of homicide.
Homicides resulting from traumatic asphyxia may have evidence of other asphy-xial methods (e.g., smothering, strangulation ).
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