Forensic science, medicine, and pathology

Unique drowning in an atypical medium: paraffin wax in the setting of a motor vehicle crash--case report and literature survey.

PMID 20859708


Among the various modes of death due to asphyxiation, drowning is unique. Unlike other types of suffocation associated with occluding airway obstructions (i.e. choking and smothering); with drowning, there is typically filling and involvement of the majority of the tracheobronchial tree and aerodigstive tract. Although the usual drowning medium is water, it can also occur in other media. Moreover, although drowning sometimes occurs in the setting of a motor vehicle accident, an element of vehicular submersion or immersion is usually operative in such instances. The case presented here is that of a motor vehicle crash which resulted in drowning where no immersion of the vehicle occurred. Moreover, the drowning medium was paraffin wax, rather than water. Other cases in the literature of drowning in atypical media and also those which are reported in the concomitant presence of a motor vehicle accident are presented.