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View Full Version : Injuries/death from a fall (may include gore)



katiemac
11-29-2009, 11:00 PM
I'm working on two different scenarios, both of which include the same fall. I've got two characters falling out the same window: one lands on concrete, the other on top of a car. The one who lands on concrete was pushed; the one who lands on the car jumped, if that makes any difference.

However, they both die. I'm unsure of both the distance of the fall and the actual injuries they would receive from the landing. At first I was imagining a the height would be about 30 stories, or roughly 300 feet. But I'm thinking of scaling it down, to maybe 12 or 15 stories.

I realize there may not be a one-answer-fits all in terms of injuries received from a 300 or 120-foot fall. I've heard the stories of the sky divers who survived 12,000-foot falls; on the other hand there's "Kid Courage" who jumped the Golden Gate bridge (about 750 feet) and died instantly upon hitting the water, even though other jumpers have survived.

But basically what I'm looking for: Whatever distance, it should be so high that the characters don't have good chance at survival (which they didn't), and what kind of injuries I can expect. I imagine major internal injuries is key here, and some broken bones. But I'm also thinking of the gory details... How much blood? What does the body look like after landing (can the fall split skin, or is it just internal)? The real gory details matter more for the individual who landed on the car than the one who landed on concrete, but I'll take insights to either. I'm also taking into account the glass and metal for the character who lands on the car.

jclarkdawe
11-29-2009, 11:39 PM
First off, a story is usually about twelve feet, not ten. So 30 stories would be closer to 360 feet. There's a lot of heating and air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, and other stuff between each floor.

Fifty percent of all falls from three times your height are fatal. For a six foot man, this means a fall from 18 feet. For an infant eighteen inches long, this means 4.5 feet.

Hitting a car will dampen the fall, as the metal crushes. Assuming he hits the roof of the driving compartment, you'll probably blow out the windows as the roof crushes. Could completely collapse the driving compartment.

Humans don't always land on their feet, so you have to deal with the different impacts. You might want to look up the falling man from the World Trade Center. I don't know that the complete picture file is still on the internet.

Clothing begins to peel off as the wind speed increases and the human approaches terminal velocity. This speed is roughly 124 mph or 200 kph. I believe that 30 stories will get you to terminal velocity, but I'm not willing to do the math.

Landing on concrete is unforgiving. High potential of body parts. Splatter can be over a significantly sized circle (thirty or more feet). Collateral damage from body parts slamming into them is possible. Landing on your feet can send your femur bones through your shoulders. Blood may pool (you'll have so many leaks you're going to bleed out in seconds), but is just as likely to splatter.

Drop a watermelon from thirty feet onto something solid. You'll get the idea.

Or damage can be less. There's a lot of factors that go into this. You can pretty much write your own ticket and make it work.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

katiemac
11-29-2009, 11:48 PM
Landing on concrete is unforgiving. High potential of body parts. Splatter can be over a significantly sized circle (thirty or more feet). Collateral damage from body parts slamming into them is possible. Landing on your feet can send your femur bones through your shoulders. Blood may pool (you'll have so many leaks you're going to bleed out in seconds), but is just as likely to splatter.

Drop a watermelon from thirty feet onto something solid. You'll get the idea.

Or damage can be less. There's a lot of factors that go into this. You can pretty much write your own ticket and make it work.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Thanks Jim. This was pretty much the picture I was envisioning, but then you run into articles like these (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/04/nyregion/04fall.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&th&emc=th), and the picture goes away. Broken legs, arms, ribs; brain, spine and chest injuries ... But of course, I see that pretty much anything goes.

I was mostly curious about how much blood we might be talking about, especially regarding the person who lands on (and crushes) the car. My POV character only sees this one fall happen; the other occurs off-page.

Anyway, you painted a pretty explicit picture of landing on concrete ... and I can definitely use that.

Thanks!

jclarkdawe
11-30-2009, 02:11 AM
A 150 pound male has about 5.5 quarts. Figure most of it will leave the body through the various leaks. Take about 3 quarts of water, add red food dye for effect. Throw over your car. (Have a hose ready to wash it, but you're a writer. You get to do crazy things.) Blood is a bit thicker than water, but you should end up with a pretty good idea.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

katiemac
11-30-2009, 04:59 AM
Yummy.