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Vehicle-Assisted Decapitation: A Case Report

Hejna, Petr MD, PhD*; Havel, Radovan MD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: March 2012 - Volume 33 - Issue 1 - p 73–75
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181e5e113
Case Reports

A rare case of vehicle-assisted suicide in a 40-year-old man is presented. The victim had tied a rope between his neck and a tree and then attempted to drive the vehicle away while seated in the driver’s seat. The acceleration of the vehicle resulted in complete decapitation. Injuries to the organs of the man’s neck bore vital signs. This, together with blood aspiration into his airways, confirmed that the victim’s injuries took place when vital functions of his organism were still preserved. The degree of cervical trauma found in this case was far greater than that in characteristic ligature strangulation or hanging, except in cases where the body has fallen some distance.

From the *Institute of Legal Medicine, Charles University, Hradec Králové; and †Forensic Pathology Unit, The Hospital Jablonec nad Nisou, Jablonec nad Nisou, Czech Republic.

Manuscript received February 4, 2009; accepted July 28, 2009.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Petr Hejna, MD, PhD, Institute of Legal Medicine, Charles University, Šimkova 870, 500 38 Hradec, Králové, Czech Republic. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.