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  • Kevin Cartwright

Dangerous Recovery - When Things Can Go BAD!


THE SITUATION


4x4 recoveries can come in all shapes and sizes. Some can be deliberate while others are from circumstances. The recovery that took place in this situation was a result of a vehicle that was meddling on a section of track that was beyond the capabilities of the vehicle set up and the drivers experience.


On this day, I was exploring already very familiar territory in the Kenilworth area with my boys and brother-in-law on some easy tracks. Far off into the distance - about 200 metres, setting my sight and focus on a white dot, I could see a short wheel base vehicle stationed across a potentially dangerous section of track. I know this section well and made a real quick assessment. I motioned for my truck,"Ol' Hoss", to crawl a little closer to the base of the mountain to better set my eyes on the troubled vehicle. My assessment proved correct. The vehicle, a Suzuki Jimmy, had made a failed attempt at climbing it and was in a dire predicament.


I decided to investigate further by approaching the scene to see if I can help out. I rocked up and parked my truck about 30 metres away from the Zook, got out of the car and walked to the recovery scene. I then asked what happened. The dialogue went smithing like this:


Kev: What happened?

Zook: I rolled it!

Kev: Serious? How many times?

Zook: About 4 times.


I took a look at the driver and assessed that she was unscathed from the rollover which was a good sign. I went on to say:


Kev: What are you doing driving this up here?

Zook: [SHRUGS]

Kev: Do you have any experience?

Zook: Yeh a little.


The driver was not phased it seemed. I also reminded her that she is lucky that she is still alive. Anyway, I had a closer look at the Zook to plan my recovery strategy. I noticed that the vehicle was not set up for this type of terrain. Not by a mile. It had small tyres designed for highway use only. They were not offroad tyres in any way. The vehicle had no winch and no recovery points. The driver was young and my intuition told me that their experience level was low - especially for savage climbs like this. All in all, it was a reckless move that could have been fatal. The sides of this mountain are not forgiving and those who have driven this track can attest to this.


To make matters worse, they were totally alone! The odds were stacked against them badly, so they were lucky that I happened to be driving through and deciding to help out.


THE RECOVERY


After noting broken glass all over the track, coins everywhere and pieces of Suzuki everywhere, the tyre position in relation to the track - it was time to get down to business and recover the vehicle. Now bare in mind, the location of this recovery is like a stage - anyone driving way down below will see you. Lucky enough, two vehicles did and they climbed their way up to see what was going on. After filling them in with the detail, we got to work.


We had to work out a safe way to get my triton, "Ol' Hoss", on stable footing and get in a position to pull the Zook back onto the track and re-align it properly.

I got into Hoss and began climbing the track by going around the Zook and done a 3 point turn to finish up facing it. After observing that the front recovery point was a tow hook and did not look tough enough to maintain a pull, the only save place was to fasten my winch rope to the Zook's bull bar. As the bull bar was fixed to the chassis, I decided that that was exactly where I was going to wrap the winch around.


I pulled the Zook in with my winch and had the two nice fellas that pulled up to help earlier on steer the Zook back onto the track and embed the car in the ready made ruts. All the while, maintaining constant comms over the radio. Once we had the vehicle where we wanted it, I needed to reposition Hoss back onto the track so that I was directly in front of the Zook. The idea was to then repel the Zook down the track with my winch in straight line (see pic) like bait on a hook and get the Zook back onto flat and safe ground.

The repelling of the Zook down to safer ground went without issue and I thank the guys that rocked up to help. It was a grandly executed and co-ordinated effort. We got the car started and once its owner hopped in the vehicle, we watched her drive off into the sunset.


BOTTOMLINE


This was a very good lesson for those that let ego take control and distort their sense of reality. The Zook had no business being there given that its set up for soft off-roading - thats the fact of it. This section is advanced an rated very difficult and is a deceptively sneaky piece of track. If you mistreat it, it will take you down for the count just like in this instance. Never do these type of tracks alone and please, have recovery gear on board, have the experience and the maturity to realise that if your vehicle is not up to task for gnarly pieces like this, then don't attempt it. The driver is lucky to be alive and we are glad she came out without a scratch.


SPECIAL THANKS


The rescue effort would not have taken place without the help I received on the day. So thanks to Scott and Peter for steering the Zook into place whilst Hoss and I was running the winch. Also thanks to Tom, who rocked up towards the end and helped out also. Bunch of legends. Also thanks to my two sons, although only 12 and 13 years old, helped out when I gave orders and learned a great deal. Thats my boys! Lastly, I would also like to thank Adonis, who got some great photos of the action as it unfolded and helped out with spotting in certain areas and re-spooling the rope back onto the winch drum like it was brand new. All of you helped and made this recovery a success. A massive thanks.


Till next time, see ya's on the tracks.

Kev!

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