Impact calculation methods of pathologists flawed, Adib inquest told

Senior lecturer Amir Rafzi Ab Ghani from Universiti Teknologi Mara Shah Alam’s mechanical engineering faculty.

SHAH ALAM: An expert in physics told the inquest into the death of Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim today the methodologies used by two pathologists in calculating the force that caused injuries to the late fireman were incorrect.

Senior lecturer Amir Rafzi Ab Ghani, from Universiti Teknologi Mara Shah Alam’s mechanical engineering faculty, said forensic expert Dr Ahmad Hafizam Hasmi, from Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL), erred by taking into account the weight of Adib and the Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS) van that hit him on Nov 27, 2018.

Amir, an expert in physics and a technical consultant on vehicle impact, told coroner Rofiah Mohamad that only the weight of the door of the van was needed in calculating the amount of force that hit Adib, not the whole van.

“(The) weight of the EMRS (van) can only be considered (in calculating the force of the impact on Adib’s injuries) if there was a direct impact (by the whole vehicle) but only the door of the van hit him.

“(So) I do not agree with the second (theory) that took into account the weight of the vehicle and the victim,” said Amir, the 30th witness in the inquest into the death of Adib, which entered its 41st day.

He noted that the door of the EMRS van was “pin-jointed”, meaning it was moving and therefore had a different centre of gravity from that of the vehicle.

Amir, 48, also said he was able to access the van in question.

His evidence comes in the wake of conflicting testimony by two pathologists as to how Adib’s injuries were caused.

UK-based senior forensic and pathology expert Dr Shahrom Abd Wahid said the force from the door of the EMRS van was not sufficient to cause the fractures on Adib’s back.

Instead, Shahrom said Adib could have been pulled out of the front seat of the van and kicked, based on the injuries he sustained.

He had also dismissed the possibility of Adib sustaining the fractures to his front right ribs in a fall on the road curb.

However, Shahrom’s theory was rebutted by Ahmad from HKL, where Adib’s autopsy was conducted.

Ahmad said he found Shahrom’s calculations inaccurate, and used two calculations based on differing speeds at which the van was reversing, both of which revealed that the force was strong enough to cause the fractures.

Over the course of the inquest, Shahrom had said he had only factored in Adib’s weight, without including the weight and speed of the moving EMRS van. This was rubbished by Ahmad.

Amir today, however, said neither the mass of the vehicle nor Adib’s weight needed to be factored in the equation, referring to the second law of Isaac Newton’s theory of motion f = m x a. (f refers to force, m to mass and a to acceleration)

Shahrom had said that a force of 3,300 newtons (N) would have been needed to cause Adib’s injuries. (A newton is a unit of force. One newton is the force required to cause a mass of 1kg to accelerate at a rate of 1m per second squared in the absence of other force-producing effects.)

However, Amir said in order for a force of 3300 N to be achieved, Adib needed to have fallen from a height of 4m.

Lawyers for the housing and local government ministry had called in Shahrom to scrutinise a report by HKL pathologists.

The inquest into Adib’s death was called by the government this year amid conflicting claims as to the cause of the fireman’s death.

Adib, 24, was part of the EMRS team sent from the Subang Jaya fire and rescue station to the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman temple on Nov 27. He sustained injuries there and died three weeks later at the National Heart Institute.

The inquest before coroner Rofiah Mohamad continues tomorrow afternoon.