20 May 2019

South Africa: Half a Ford Kuga Chassis in Court - Expert Establishes Credentials in Reshall Jimmy Death Case

Ford brought the big guns in for the resumption of the inquest into whether a fault in its Kuga model was responsible for the death of Reshall Jimmy.

Its witness at the Western Cape High Court proceedings was a US-based engineer who was part of a team of scientists who advised on a recall on vaping devices.

"They refunded all the consumers and they pulled them from service," said John Loud, principal engineer for Exponent Incorporated in the US, as he established his credentials before Judge Robert Henney.

Next to the dock where Loud sat, was half of a Ford Kuga, and in front of him on a board were some of the components of the vehicle's wiring and other parts.

Jimmy was found dead in his vehicle on December 4, 2015. His family believes there was a fault with the vehicle which made it burst into flames. In 2017, 4 670 Kugas were recalled to rectify a cooling deficiency issue.

Before the inquest began, legal teams looked through the car which has two front seats and its cubby hole taken out for a view of the internal wiring.

Loud told Henney his speciality was not only to establish what caused fires, but also to advise companies if recalls were necessary.

As an example, he said one of his cases involved electronic cigarettes where "about eight or nine" of the devices had failed and burst into flames.

He did not name the company, but said there was a recall after its analysis.

The company's work also includes establishing causes of fires in apartment buildings.

Earlier in the proceedings the SA Police Service's investigating officer's qualifications were questioned, but Henney said that having a degree did not necessarily make a person an expert over somebody who had 30 years' field experience. The police officer's qualifications will be canvassed later and it will be up to Henney to decide which evidence to accept.

Loud said four examplars of the Ford Kuga were used extensively to understand whatever they could learn about the fire, and to test hypothesis on the vehicle under certain circumstances.

The court was shown a video of test crashes of various vehicles to recreate crashes, including anatomically correct and weighted crash test dummies for rollovers, T-bone crashes and crushed truck cabs. He was asked to determine the cause and origin of the fire in which Jimmy was found dead.

Loud has a master's degree and works with a firm that conducts hundreds of thousands of investigations. He started his career by working for a company that made black boxes in case of locomotive crashes.

Source: News24

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