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Off-Road Vehicle Recovery Fatality


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OLIVER OWNERS:  If you own any vehicle recovery gear, or could find yourself stuck, PLEASE take a moment and read this post.  Thank you, GJ

 In pursuit of mountain top hang glider and paragliding launches, I have spent much of my adult life enjoying fire and remote unpaved adventures.  I pride myself in trying to be a helpful Good Samaritan.   More than a few times I have stopped and helped a fellow off-roader who had become stuck.   I carry a 15,000 # rated tow strap that I have attached to my trailer ball on many occasions.  After watching the below referenced video, it is apparent that my confidence in my recovery gear exceeds by a wide margin the actual safety ratings of my gear.

 The below info came from a recently posted by Colorado 4X4 Rescue and Recovery, Inc. that Good Samaritans should review.  It involves an incident not all that different from what many of us have done many times.  Sadly for Mr. Ryan Woods, a 43 year old Arizona off-roader, was killed by a Good Sam’s confidence in his recovery gear and/or lack of understanding of its limitations and/or how to properly use it.

 I commend Ryan’s wife for allowing Colorado Rescue and Recovery to produce the video analysis of the incident that resulted in the death of her young husband.  (Pictures from video)
 

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The Good Samaritan apparently had looped their tow strap over their truck’s trailer ball and ran the tow strap to the tow hooks (Apparently below the cow catcher in the mud) of this Super Duty Ford. 

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 According to the video, the Good Samaritan’s truck was using an “Anderson Style” drop hitch and 2” receiver such as this one.    

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 In this case, the hitch failed at the truck receiver.   

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But, as the video advises, there are several other potential failure points that could have resulted in the fatality.  In this incident, It appears that the entire hitch assembly aft of the truck became a missile that killed Mr. Woods.  It could have been the ball itself, or the shank pin, or the tow strap, or the tow hook(s) on the stuck vehicle.  I think that the central point of the video is that all elements of a vehicle recovery system need to have the necessary ratings for the task involved. 

One of the video reviewers (Mr. Jeffrey Coomb) stated:  “I'm guilty of using my tow hitch to recover trucks and trailers. I think for me it's a case of you don't know what you don't know, and when you find out, it's too late. I'm glad I found this video and really appreciate Ryan's wife for allowing you to use their story to educate others on the dangers. I am very sorry for her loss, but incredible that she see's the possibility to help others despite her grief. Quite a woman! I'm ordering the right tools ASAP.

Please be aware that your trailer hitch ball and receiver may be significant failure point.  Personally, I will also be taking a re-look at my recovery gear and for certain stop using my hitch as the pull point when using it.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb3BkeeXlIo

 

 

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Tug:  2019 F-150 SuperCrew Lariat, 3.5L EcoBoost, Max Trailer Tow, FX-4, 4X4, Rear Locker

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Very tragic indeed. This rather shook me up for a day or so when I first became aware of it. The incident and the news reports were shared on the Super Duty Tremor forum as many of us actively participate in recovery assistance with our trucks. Several mistakes were made and the consequences were devastating and life changing for many people. 

If you need to call for help in a situation you can't get out of, even if they are experienced, be in charge. It's your vehicle and your life that's at stake regardless of the level of experience of the good Samaritan. If it doesn't look right stop the process and reevaluate, you may not get a second chance. 

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2021 Ford F350 7.3L Tremor (Redzilla)

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A very sad story.  Sometimes I think I over-prepare for emergencies on the road, but then I see a story like this.   I’ve been carrying a Rhino tow strap and a Curt D-ring shackle for minor towing emergency recovery situations that may never come up (stuck in snow, etc.).  Haven’t had any need to use them yet, but that article is an eye opener.  And even with this stuff I carry (rated to about 10,000 lbs working load) there are situations that are still best left to a professional recovery service.   Prayers for that family.  

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2019 Oliver Legacy Elite II - Hull #461

Tow Vehicle: 2019 Ford F-250 SuperCab 4x4, 6.2L Flex-Fuel engine  

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Great info and such a sad story.  A well intentioned samaritan that will live with this incident forever let alone the loss to the stuck driver's family.   Really makes you think about how to help someone and how to receive help!!  Great lessons here. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

This note addresses the ropes or straps used by many “Non-Winch” vehicle recovery systems.  Basically, there are two types of vehicle recovery ropes/strap designs: 

  •  One uses the power of the retrieval vehicle to pull the stuck vehicle.  This is a slow steady process some call “Static Pull” or “Low Energy” recovery design.
  • The other has the recovery vehicle moving and stretching the tow rope/strap to multiply the pull-out forces considerably.  These are called kinetic energy recovery (K.E.) ropes or straps. 

 The tow related fatality video that I sent out previously (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb3BkeeXlIo) discussed not using our receiver hitch ball as a vehicle recovery attachment point.  But in reality, ANY failure in the recovery system would likely result in flying missile(s) of various destructive energy heading either forward or backward depending where the break occurs in a K.E. based connection.

 The below video tests a Kinetic Energy strap that has redesigned by the OEM with a “safety strap” in an effort to control the uncontrolled energy during failure.  It certainly highlights how safety clearance well away from the recovery operation is warranted.  It is worth a watch to see the failure mechanics:     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7STkTpTjDCU

 If you are a professionally trained in vehicle recovery, and practice the craft on a regular basis, with all the correct equipment and safety gear…. then you would want to have the proper equipment as indicated in the above two videos.  This would include both static pull and K.E. gear.

 I was strongly biased to purchasing a K.E. style system due to their effectiveness.  However, after watching the above two video’s, I changed my mind for many reasons. After many hours of research and soul searching, now I am following Frank C.’s lead in preparing for “minor emergency towing situations”.   To that which he posted, I added two soft Shackles to facilitate connection at the stuck vehicle end without creating a heavy missile.  I also went with a 30’ tow strap to allow for more options.  To be clear, this is a static/low energy set-up and will only be used as such. 

The Rhino gear I chose is on-sale (Pre Thanksgiving 2022) at the Rhino web site.  The sale cost plus free shipping and a Muddy10 (10%) discount is less costly than Amazon Prime at this time. 

I am interested in your comments and thoughts.  Mahalo, GJ

Rhino Kit:  30' Tow Strap, Hitch Receiver, Shackle Kit:

image.png.91b20077ef288755bdb9b73c0a45c2cd.png

7/16" Synthetic Soft Shackles (2 Pack)

image.png.fc93efcecee33e4a265fb0a3f6488d8d.png

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Tug:  2019 F-150 SuperCrew Lariat, 3.5L EcoBoost, Max Trailer Tow, FX-4, 4X4, Rear Locker

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Standard operating procedure when winching is to place a heavy blanket or similar soft weight across the cable at its midpoint to absorb most of the energy if it should break. Synthetic winch rope is super expensive, but it doesn’t fray, kink and cut your hands, and it does NOT stretch, so it doesn’t store energy like a steel cable or an over stressed nylon snatch strap.

I chose not to install a winch in this Land Cruiser, instead I carry shovel, chain saw, heavy truck chains and Maxx Trax recovery boards. And of course I have an air pump and I air down the tires if needed. If all those won’t do the job (assisted by Toyotas incredible CRAWL control), I am calling for professional assistance, by phone or by sat com. … Crawl Control on the 2020 Land Cruiser | Getting Unstuck From Sand | Self Recovery

Long ago, I wouldn’t have hesitated to help a stuck motorist. Now I am inclined to just call for professional help -  legal ramifications of a botched recovery are too horrible to contemplate.

John Davies

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags, Safari snorkel.

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On 11/16/2022 at 3:54 PM, Geronimo John said:

This note addresses the ropes or straps used by many “Non-Winch” vehicle recovery systems.  Basically, there are two types of vehicle recovery ropes/strap designs: 

  •  One uses the power of the retrieval vehicle to pull the stuck vehicle.  This is a slow steady process some call “Static Pull” or “Low Energy” recovery design.
  • The other has the recovery vehicle moving and stretching the tow rope/strap to multiply the pull-out forces considerably.  These are called kinetic energy recovery (K.E.) ropes or straps. 

 The tow related fatality video that I sent out previously (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb3BkeeXlIo) discussed not using our receiver hitch ball as a vehicle recovery attachment point.  But in reality, ANY failure in the recovery system would likely result in flying missile(s) of various destructive energy heading either forward or backward depending where the break occurs in a K.E. based connection.

 The below video tests a Kinetic Energy strap that has redesigned by the OEM with a “safety strap” in an effort to control the uncontrolled energy during failure.  It certainly highlights how safety clearance well away from the recovery operation is warranted.  It is worth a watch to see the failure mechanics:     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7STkTpTjDCU

 If you are a professionally trained in vehicle recovery, and practice the craft on a regular basis, with all the correct equipment and safety gear…. then you would want to have the proper equipment as indicated in the above two videos.  This would include both static pull and K.E. gear.

 I was strongly biased to purchasing a K.E. style system due to their effectiveness.  However, after watching the above two video’s, I changed my mind for many reasons. After many hours of research and soul searching, now I am following Frank C.’s lead in preparing for “minor emergency towing situations”.   To that which he posted, I added two soft Shackles to facilitate connection at the stuck vehicle end without creating a heavy missile.  I also went with a 30’ tow strap to allow for more options.  To be clear, this is a static/low energy set-up and will only be used as such. 

The Rhino gear I chose is on-sale (Pre Thanksgiving 2022) at the Rhino web site.  The sale cost plus free shipping and a Muddy10 (10%) discount is less costly than Amazon Prime at this time. 

I am interested in your comments and thoughts.  Mahalo, GJ

Rhino Kit:  30' Tow Strap, Hitch Receiver, Shackle Kit:

image.png.91b20077ef288755bdb9b73c0a45c2cd.png

7/16" Synthetic Soft Shackles (2 Pack)

image.png.fc93efcecee33e4a265fb0a3f6488d8d.png

Thank you for sharing all of this info.
No question there is a lot more involved then just snatching some one out of a ditch. If one is unsure let the professionals have at it. 

 

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2020 OLEII - Hull #634   TV -2021 F 350 6.7 liter Diesel Lariat Ultimate “Tremor”

 

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