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Post Info TOPIC: Need insight into a mystery


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Need insight into a mystery


Excuse me beforehand,  but this will be a little long. It's not Pontiac related, but you're all a knowledgeable group, especially those of you with an engineering/scientific mind. That's who I need right now. 

Hoping to finally start getting my cars out of winter storage this coming week.

 I work 2 jobs, one of them being in the Coroner's office.  It's my job to go out and pick up people who have passed away by various means and figure out what happened to them. I've been training a new guy the last 6 weeks and he asked me a little over a month ago about interesting calls that I've done.  This is one that's bothered me since it happened. I'll include as much information as I can recall.

About 2 and a half years ago,  I picked up a fellow about 30 miles out of town. who had been working on a 67 Impala. It was badged as a Super Sport and had dual exhaust.  It didn't look like a big block car. It had an automatic transmission.  It was definitely NOT  a manual transmission. He was working underneath the hood in his 2 car garage. Somehow the car moved forward pinning him to the back of the garage wall. It was about 10 to 12 feet I figure from where the car should park in the garage to the shelving unit on the back wall. The front center nose cone was slightly dented and both front fenders had buckled slightly. The car was not up on blocks. It was resting on it's 4 tires and wheels.  Judging what killed the poor fellow was blindingly obvious,  but what I can't figure out is ......How did that car move with enough force to dent the metal if he was standing in front of the car? A car just doesn't jump out of the "Park" setting,  does it? Do mid 60s GM Automatic transmissions have issues? Was he working on the car in neutral and perhaps playing with the throttle linkage where the vibration caused it to slip into drive? I remember that he had his mechanic certificate framed and hanging on the wall of his garage.  He was in his 50s or 60s, so I figure he had a lot of years of experience.  The more macabre thought is that his wife was assisting him and was behind the wheel and floored it mowing him down. I never found out if the car was investigated after it was impounded and I didn't think about the call for a long time until a month ago. The car looked to be in great shape cosmetically and mechanically was shiny. 

Does anybody have some thoughts? 



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Kevin

1966 Pontiac Grande Parisienne 427/4spd

1966 Lincoln Continental Convertible

2000 Jaguar VDP Super V8

2008 Toyota Avalon XLS

2009 Mazda 6



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Similar story on the Island years back. Guy had a problem with his car and climbed underneath while running. He bumped the shifter linkcage and the car ran over him. Your person could have done the same thing if he hit the column shift lever under the hood. Could also be many other scenarios.

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Thanks for the insight. It's been bothering me the last bit not knowing what happened. I figured it was something like that. Is that an easy thing to do? Hitting the column shift lever?



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Kevin

1966 Pontiac Grande Parisienne 427/4spd

1966 Lincoln Continental Convertible

2000 Jaguar VDP Super V8

2008 Toyota Avalon XLS

2009 Mazda 6



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Were the tires on the Impala flat-spotted? They may have been trying to return to the flat spot on the tire, rolling all 4 until they rested on the flat spot on all fours.

This is not a GM problem, but Fords of the era with automatics were known to jump out of park.


On another note, the father of one of the friends I grew up with was the Chief Coroner of Ontario back in the 1970s/80s.

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hawkeye5766 wrote:

Similar story on the Island years back. Guy had a problem with his car and climbed underneath while running. He bumped the shifter linkage and the car ran over him. Your person could have done the same thing if he hit the column shift lever under the hood. Could also be many other scenarios.


 But unless he had it in neutral (vs having it in park) it would be hard to bump it that much? Neutral to drive is easy enough but park to drive is a long way.

I have questions-

Was it a column shift car? An SS automatic wouldn't be but a clone maybe?

Was the key on when they found him and if so, was the car running?

Was the park brake pedal down? (Maybe he though the brake worked but it didn't?)

It would be good to try to figure out what he was doing. Was everything intact on the engine? i.e. throttle linkage, spark plug wires etc. 

Had he tried to block the wheels knowing the car might try to move?

Alcohol in his system?



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1966 Strato Chief 2 door, 427 4 speed, 45,000 original miles 

1966 Grande Parisienne, 396 1 of 23 factory air cars (now converted to a "factory" 4 speed)



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CdnGMfan wrote:



This is not a GM problem, but Fords of the era with automatics were known to jump out of park.


__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Yes, but always into reverse, right?

 



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1966 Strato Chief 2 door, 427 4 speed, 45,000 original miles 

1966 Grande Parisienne, 396 1 of 23 factory air cars (now converted to a "factory" 4 speed)



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When I arrived at the scene the car had been moved backwards off of him, unfortunately, but I assume that the engine must have been running. His blood alcohol level was 0.01. He probably had a beer within the last 4-6 hours, but nowhere near enough to be impaired. He was a solid guy around 190-200lbs. His autopsy showed that he didn't have a heart attack or stroke. He died from internal hemorrhaging from the blunt force trauma. The keys were in the ignition, but the engine was shut off. I can't tell you about any flat spotting of the tires. The only thing I can recall about the tires was that they were 15". I can't recall what brand. I think the lettering was in white, but I'm not 100% sure.The whole car presented as a good #2, car show driver quality. Apparently, it was a friend's car. The transmission lever was on the steering column, not floor mounted. It could have been a SS clone. The small block 327/350 made me suspicious. I didn't check if the parking brake was engaged. I don't think so. Everybody on the scene was young and not looking at the car or really had any knowledge or interest in the car. I was the only one who was interested, being a car guy. They looked at me like I was talking nonsensical Greek as I talked about the car. I'm guessing they wouldn't have even known what a parking brake would be, let alone how to disengage it to move it away from the poor fellow. I didn't notice any jack stands or blocks of wood/bricks nearby to block the wheels.

Thanks for your help gang. I know the topic is morbid, but I'm curious about the science.

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Kevin

1966 Pontiac Grande Parisienne 427/4spd

1966 Lincoln Continental Convertible

2000 Jaguar VDP Super V8

2008 Toyota Avalon XLS

2009 Mazda 6



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That's very interesting that you had a friend's parent who was the Cheif Coroner. I go down to their place in Toronto frequently.  It's like a fortress!



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Kevin

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2009 Mazda 6



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Excuse me for this but somewhat related. A neighbour up north went to test drive a new Cadillac back in the 80's with his wife, he pinned her up against the dealership and killed her. He did time as he was DUI.

Just saying your wife theory may be valid.



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Why did the 327/350 make you suspicious? Not all SS's were big blocks.

My guess is he had it in gear with the park brake on working in front of the car. Unfortunately the park brake didn't hold the car and it rammed him into the wall. He should have known better than to trust only the park brake, but things happen.

By the time you got there the car had been shut off, the park brake released, car put in Neutral to back it away from the wall, then put in Park.

Sounds pretty straight forward to me.



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I didn't know that there were small block SS models.  Thanks.  It probably is something as straight forward as you say.  I just didn't have enough knowledge of the subject......and that's why I posed the thread. Although........that wife idea would make for a good short movie idea lol.



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Kevin

1966 Pontiac Grande Parisienne 427/4spd

1966 Lincoln Continental Convertible

2000 Jaguar VDP Super V8

2008 Toyota Avalon XLS

2009 Mazda 6



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Hi 73SC.

That's a crazy story too!



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Kevin

1966 Pontiac Grande Parisienne 427/4spd

1966 Lincoln Continental Convertible

2000 Jaguar VDP Super V8

2008 Toyota Avalon XLS

2009 Mazda 6



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seventy2plus2 wrote:

Why did the 327/350 make you suspicious? Not all SS's were big blocks.

My guess is he had it in gear with the park brake on working in front of the car. Unfortunately the park brake didn't hold the car and it rammed him into the wall. He should have known better than to trust only the park brake, but things happen.

By the time you got there the car had been shut off, the park brake released, car put in Neutral to back it away from the wall, then put in Park.

Sounds pretty straight forward to me.


 You give up too easy! I don't think it's that simple. Let's assume he had it in drive with the park brake on. Think about it. When you are manually working the throttle on your 67 Impala, (from under the hood), where do you stand? Certainly not in front of the car, that is way too far to reach and then on top of that you have to push back on the throttle arm. It's way easier to reach over from the left fender to grab the throttle arm and do a sideways motion with your arm to rev the engine. And as a side note, he's a seasoned mechanic, he wouldn't stand in front of the car with the park brake being the only thing to hold the car back.

There's more to this. I just haven't been able to figure out what it is yet.



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4SPEED427 wrote:
seventy2plus2 wrote:

Why did the 327/350 make you suspicious? Not all SS's were big blocks.

My guess is he had it in gear with the park brake on working in front of the car. Unfortunately the park brake didn't hold the car and it rammed him into the wall. He should have known better than to trust only the park brake, but things happen.

By the time you got there the car had been shut off, the park brake released, car put in Neutral to back it away from the wall, then put in Park.

Sounds pretty straight forward to me.


 You give up too easy! I don't think it's that simple. Let's assume he had it in drive with the park brake on. Think about it. When you are manually working the throttle on your 67 Impala, (from under the hood), where do you stand? Certainly not in front of the car, that is way too far to reach and then on top of that you have to push back on the throttle arm. It's way easier to reach over from the left fender to grab the throttle arm and do a sideways motion with your arm to rev the engine. And as a side note, he's a seasoned mechanic, he wouldn't stand in front of the car with the park brake being the only thing to hold the car back.

There's more to this. I just haven't been able to figure out what it is yet.


Investigations like this usually point to a series of errors, not just 1 thing.   He relied on the park brake, stood in the wrong place, or was walking in front of the car from one side to the other and things got interesting. 

Unfortunately we only have info from likely a few hours after the event, not from the time of the discovery.



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1... To dent the front fenders, buckle the nose, the car had to be have had some speed to it, plus to move some distance too (5-6' would not do that damage)

2... The keys would NOT be in the ignition if a first responder was called. (police, fire, ambulance) The "number one" thing that is done, when possible, on arrival at a automotive accident.

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I had perhaps a similar event 35 years ago, but luckily for me with a different ending

I had a 68 GTO with a floor shift automatic. Being a 68 it didnt have the steering column linkage seen on all GMs starting in 69. It had an engine replacement by a previous owner and they failed to replace the ground straps between the body and chassis in the engine bay (that years there were two) so the floor shift cable was acting as the ground and corroded internally resulting in it semi-seizing. I had it stored for the winter and had disconnected the cable planning to replace it before the spring. The warehouse had no power so every month or so Id go fire it up, move it outside and let it run to charge up the battery. I would push it outside by flipping the toggle on the transmission itself into neutral and push it about 40 feet outside the door and start it up and let it run. That day it was cold enough that even when I kicked off the fast idle it stayed in the intermediate step so was idling pretty quick. I was walking back to close the roll up door when I heard the sound of ice cracking in a puddle. I turned around to see my goat rolling backwards towards me and picking up speed. I tried to yank open the driver door but its surprisingly difficult to open the door on a car rolling in reverse. It was probably going about 10-12 mph when the back bumper hit the steel door frame just outboard of the car frame. Thus crumpled the bumper, tail panel, trunklid and one quarter panel. I was devastated especially since the car was absolutely rust free just arrived from California.

Best I can figure is the shift toggle on the trans wasnt fully in neutral but instead hanging between neutral and reverse. The vibration of the high idle must have popped it into reverse. I called my friend who in New Mexico who owned Purely PMD and he sold me a rust free quarter, trunklid and bumper for about $500. I was so discouraged that I sold the car and the parts to a local body shop owner. He did the body work and enjoyed the car personally for many years.

Btw, the car was used in a movie from back then with Drew Barrymore, Ryan ONeil, Shelley Long and Sharron Stone. I had bought it and another twin car from the production company in LA while visiting family. I had already sold the camera car (used for inside shots) and the car I smashed was used for exterior shots.

I wonder were they are now? Both were red with white guts and automatic, AC and hideaways. Both had been originally factory green and interestingly both had had the original 68 doors with vent windows replaced with 69 doors. I imagine for easier filming of the passengers.


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That's quite the story. So glad you didn't get hurt or killed.  Wonder where your cars are now....



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Kevin

1966 Pontiac Grande Parisienne 427/4spd

1966 Lincoln Continental Convertible

2000 Jaguar VDP Super V8

2008 Toyota Avalon XLS

2009 Mazda 6



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My sister in law has a friend whose mother was killed in a parking incident about 15 or 20 years ago in Hamilton. They had just gotten a brand new Toyota pickup and the wife was backing him into the garage. I guess he hit the door post then hit the gas in his new unfamiliar vehicle, pinning & killing his wife. It was a total accident, and the driver suffered a heart attack after because he was so completely devastated.

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True story as told to me in the fall of 1968 by my then friend Mike.

His dad had a 1968 Impala, 4 dr H.T with a 275 HP, 327 with a PG.

Mike ran the daylights out of that car whenever he got his hands on it.

He often bragged he had it up to one hundred and seven MPH in low!

Any way, he told of his father explaining how to check transmission fluid.

He said his dad pulled the car into the garage and left the Engine running.

His dad applied the parking brake and placed the column shifter in drive.

He then got out and raised the hood in order to remove the trans dipstick.

But then, apparently he thought it was on high idle, he flicked the accel. arm.

The car lunged forward and almost crushed him against the garage front wall.

Mike said it would have crushed him but as it was on an angle it just pinned him.

His father then yelled for Mike to TURN THE ENGINE OFF RIGHT NOW!!

Mike said before turning it off, he asked if he could borrow the car Friday night!

I don't think Mike ever got to drive the Impala again but the family moved away.

Seemed funny at the time but illustrates how quickly things can go deadly wrong.


Thanks
Randy



-- Edited by GLHS60 on Wednesday 22nd of May 2024 01:41:47 PM



-- Edited by GLHS60 on Wednesday 22nd of May 2024 01:43:15 PM



-- Edited by GLHS60 on Wednesday 22nd of May 2024 01:43:47 PM

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That's a he'll of a story that could have been really tragic. 



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Kevin

1966 Pontiac Grande Parisienne 427/4spd

1966 Lincoln Continental Convertible

2000 Jaguar VDP Super V8

2008 Toyota Avalon XLS

2009 Mazda 6



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Your investigation reminded me of this incident from long ago.
Possibly very similar circumstances??
Thanks
Randy
Kevin66427 wrote:

That's a he'll of a story that could have been really tragic. 


 



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