An Anthropological Examination of the Types of Skeletal Fractures Resulting from Fatal High (˃3 m) Free Falls

Samantha K. Rowbotham, Soren Blau, Jacqueline Hislop-Jambrich, Victoria Francis

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Fatal falls from heights (˃3 m) often result in blunt force trauma (BFT) to the skeleton. The fracture patterns that result from this BFT mechanism are well understood in forensic anthropology and forensic pathology; however, details of the specific types of fractures that result remain poorly documented. The aim of this study was to provide a detailed examination of the types of fractures that may result from fatal high falls. Fractures were recorded from 95 full-body postmortem computed tomography scans of individuals known to have died from a high fall. Trauma was then analyzed taking into account the extrinsic and intrinsic variables known to influence a fall using multiple logistic regression. A total of 339 types of fractures were classified, of which 16 were significantly associated with this BFT mechanism. Classified fracture types will augment anthropological interpretations of the circumstances of death from BFT in cases of suspected high falls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-384
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • blunt force trauma
  • forensic anthropology
  • forensic science
  • fracture types
  • high free fall
  • postmortem computed tomography
  • skeletal trauma

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