Fatal and Nonfatal Injury Patterns of Stranded Motorists

Stacy A. Drake, Yijiong Yang, Si Gao, Stephen Mora, Robin Garza, Laura Moore, S. Rob Todd, Chad Wilson, Dwayne A. Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Because nonfatal and fatal incidents for stranded motorists are not separated from vehicular accidents, little data are available on incident characteristics. To close this gap, data fields were inserted into databases at a medical examiner's office and two trauma centers to collect injury-related information. Forensic nurses and pathologists aided in forming a collaboration among the agencies involved and supported data collection efforts. Data collected over a 5-year period were examined for injury patterns to determine risk factors affecting these patterns. Of the total sample (N = 219), 24.7% had spinal injuries resulting in fatal injuries for 46 of 54 individuals. The odds were stranded motorists with spine-related injuries (C1-C7) had 9.13 times higher risk for a fatal outcome compared with those without spine-related injuries. Severe injuries (Abbreviated Injury Scale scores ≥ 4) noted for head/neck (29.7%) and chest (24.2%) were significantly associated with fatality. Of the 219 cases, 22.8% were inside of a stopped vehicle, and 77.2% were outside a vehicle at the time of injury. Outcomes illustrated the success of the interprofessional collaboration between trauma centers and a medicolegal death investigation agency that resulted in data useful for forensic nurses and pathologists documenting evidence, emergency and trauma responding personnel in patient priority stabilization, and injury prevention specialists for highway safety programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-162
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of forensic nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • Fatal roadway injuries
  • forensic nursing
  • highway injury pattern
  • stranded motorist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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