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Accident investigator testifies at Corasanti trial

Pool photo provided by The Buffalo News

In Erie County Court Monday morning, prosecutors began by laying the groundwork for Amherst Police Senior Accident Investigator Robert McMahon to testify in the trial of Dr. James Corasanti. 

Corasanti is accused of vehicular manslaughter in the July 8, 2011 hit-and-run death of 18-year-old Alexandria Rice.

McMahon testified that he is certified in downloading information from vehicle 'black boxes' and accident reconstruction, which he said involves measurements and mathematical formulas. He said he has conducted thousands of accident investigations across Erie County and the state.

Investigator McMahon recently started his own accident investigation company, but said as an officer, he only works on civil cases, not criminal.  He has done independent work for three large insurance companies, three major trucking companies, and more than a dozen law firms.  

McMahon stated that based on his experience and the damage he saw to the right front bumper and hood of Corasanti's car, Alexandria Rice suffered a "low vault" type of hit, meaning she was low to the ground and hit from behind.  The impact was like "a kick" that sent her flying.

Based on a gouge mark and scrapes in the pavement, McMahon said Rice was hit on her skateboard about 12 inches inside the bike lane.  He said based on eyewitness accounts from moments before the accident, Rice was traveling about 5 mph.  

Several scaled diagrams based on more than 180 measurements entered into accident reconstruction software by investigators were shown in the courtroom. McMahon testified Rice's body came to rest about 167 feet from the point of impact. 

McMahon's testimony will continue Tuesday.