*When 2WD is NOT Enough*
Many years ago when PaleHorse was a teenager, she hydroplaned out of control in her father's truck during a rainstorm and flipped the truck. She ended up in the hospital barely alive... broken neck, and many other injuries that required surgery and MANY months of recovery time. Her seat belt saved her life through that awful crash...Having 4WD may have stopped her from having a wreck at all.
The last week has seen a MAJOR ice storm here in South Carolina with road accumulations of 2+ inches of SOLID ice... Southerners are simply not used to these conditions and many people ignored the warning to stay off the roads. There have been HUNDREDS of vehicle accidents out there due to this.
PaleHorse is a paramedic, meaning she was one of the folks that was going to be responding to these people that wrecked. The County trucks are 4WD and have Automatic chains on them. Really nice vehicles.
That meant that PaleHorse had to go to work in this mess. I asked her to let me drive her to work in my 4WD truck, but she refused saying she didn't want the kids left at home alone, nor did she want the Children out in this mess... So we put chains on her 2WD Jeep and off she went.
She bought this Jeep Cherokee new back in 1999 before we started dating. At the time she couldn't afford 4WD so she didn't get it. While the Cherokee has been a great family vehicle, it has gotten us stuck more times that I can count. I HATED that Jeep due to the lack of 4WD. As I have said many times before (And will probably say many times again), "When you NEED 4WD, you tend to need it desperately!
...but back to PaleHorse's wreck. She ventured out into the ice, with me doing what I do best... worrying. About 45 minutes later I got a frantic phone called from someone I didn't recognize saying "PaleHorse (garble) wreck (garble) Flipped (garble) Hurt"... and then a man got on the phone, gave me an address and told me I needed to get out there ASAP, my wife had flipped her Jeep off a cliff.
My worst fears came to life.
I tried to be calm, knowing that this mess needed my TOTAL attention... I got bundled up, and got in my Nissan Pickup, yanked back on the 4WD shifter and felt the bar chains on the tires bite in... Still it was a Slippery HORRID drive to the crash site. The sleet was coming down so hard I could barely see.
As I approached the crash site, all I could see was fire trucks and ambulances EVERYWHERE. When the local EMS people found out that PaleHorse was in a wreck, as many as could get there, got there. The EMS community takes care of it's own.
PaleHorse had been cruising along at UNDER 25MPH when she hit a patch of deep slush on top of the ice. The Chains on the back end lost traction when the back end hydroplaned and bounced upwards coming out of the depression on the road where the slush was pooled. The back of the Jeep came around causing her to do a 360 in the road, and when the back end of the Jeep came around for the second time, it went off a cliff.
The Jeep then went airborne, impacting the cliff face about 3/4's of the way down and rolling over at least twice before coming to rest kinda on it's side.
The area at the bottom of the cliff (About 30 feet down) had been clear cut during the summer and there's stumps sticking out of the ground 3-4 feet tall everywhere, and discarded trees and logs piled all down at the bottom... the county has no explanation as to why there's no guard rail there.
Here's a distance shot of the crash site the next day:
These are sticking out of the bottom of the cliff EVERYWHERE, one is stuck THROUGH PaleHorse's floorboard and into the bottom of the driver's seat:
I climbed about 15 feet down the cliff-side to take some better close ups...
When I got there, the paramedics were working on PaleHorse. She was very upset (understandably) and was covered in mud, soot and ice. She'd re-dislocated her shoulder and had some bumps and bruises, but she was ALIVE and that was all I cared about at the time.
After making SURE she was going to be OK and almost hugging the life out of her, me and several firemen and EMS workers went down to the crash site...
The Jeep is sitting at an odd angle, nose down, kinda on it's side, on stumps and felled trees. Imagine going off a cliff with huge pungi sticks at the bottom and you have a VERY accurate picture of how things are.. the back and middle of the Jeep is impaled on these jagged stumps like an apple on a spit.... it's a total loss.
It's a HELL of a climb to even get down there to it and it's in a remote location. PaleHorse was wearing her seat belt, and there's no doubt it saved her life... everything that was in the Jeep (except PaleHorse) was thrown out and scattered all down the cliff and surrounding area, bug out box, tapes, CDs, cell phone, we found her PDA about 20 feet on past the Jeep, her mag light was found under the front driver's Tire-Rim smashed into the mud, and me and several firemen dug it out to get it out from under it (and it still works!!!! We used it to gather up PaleHorse's things!)
Anyway, PaleHorse managed to crawl out of the wreckage and climbed the cliff and walked to a nearby house (That's my Girl, she's TOUGH)... where the home owners called me and EMS on the phone.
As I said above, It's impaled on several jagged stumps, there's no glass in it except the front window, the roof is crushed except for the driver's area, the body is pushed over so the Jeep is no longer square, the floor is pushed upwards... literally two feet either way and one of those stumps would have come through the drivers door and that would have been it..
It's often an over-used line, but it is TRULY a miracle that she survived, much less walked away. If there was ONE perfect way she could have hit bottom, and live, she did, it is literally a Pungi pit at the bottom.
Frankly I'm glad the Jeep is gone... 2WD kills... when you need a 4WD vehicle, you need it BADLY and this was one of those times. But to be honest, even my 4WD truck has been having a bit of a hard time driving on all this Ice. Don't get me wrong, the Jeep has been an excellent family vehicle, and the driver's box stayed intact during the wreck, but it SUCKS in the rain or mud or snow. None of the Firemen could believe that neither airbag deployed, even though the front end took several direct hits.
PaleHorse says she remembers every roll of the Jeep, the sense of falling, watching the trees and sky go by in the headlights out the front window as she rolled, watching the ground come up, glass breaking and metal crunching like it was all in slow motion... she said after the first complete roll she thought, "Trip told me not to drive tonight"
There's just no way she walked away from this alive, much less walked away... The pictures don't do it justice. There were so many variables that just went PERFECTLY right... A cut-tree glancing off the drivers door instead of going through... two feet more of settle onto the stump that pierced the floorboard would have smashed her up into the ceiling like a shish-ka-bob, The motor is jammed into the back of the firewall but didn't come through, the full gas tank wasn't punctured, There's tree stumps through the front end that were stopped by the motor, etc etc etc...
The front of the Jeep is pointing towards oncoming traffic down at the bottom of the cliff.
There is paper up in the trees that was thrown out during the roll...
Luckily the Jeep is too far down off the road to be seen from the road by gawkers and thieves... or maybe that's unlucky... if PaleHorse had been knocked unconscious, we WOULD NOT have found her.
I'm more shaky now writing about it than I was that night when it happened.
Anyway, as of this writing, PaleHorse is home from the Hospital and is going to be fine. I told her to pick out a new vehicle with FOUR WHEEL DRIVE, and we went last night and bought her a new 2004 Nissan Exterra, fully loaded with all the options and packages available on one. It's a NICE vehicle for a survivalist.
I really like it too, it's got a lot of power, lots of room, rides GREAT and has a lot of nice features (Like Pockets and mesh holders EVERYWHERE, not to mention built in AC power plugs)... best of all, FOUR WHEEL DRIVE, shift on the fly!
When the nukes are falling, or when you've decided that it's time to bug out RIGHT NOW, is NOT the time to find out that your two wheel drive vehicle gets stuck in the mud or ice or snow.. or that it won't climb that hill beside the highway to get you up to a secondary road to bypass highway traffic jams... more importantly, 4WD gives you that extra traction and handling stability that you NEED when you REALLY need it most.
I HAVE to say this.... I am NOT an advocate of laws saying a person HAS to wear their seat belts, but wearing your seat belts should be something that EVERYONE has enough common sense to do on their own. PaleHorse is here today, TWICE, because of them.
WEAR YOUR SEAT BELTS!
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