PICTURES OF EXTRICATING MY VAN 2/6/08
I never had an accident before, but here's what my van looked like after it slid off the very slippery road to my house. The road was icy and rain throughout the day made it ever slipperier all day. It slid off the road at about 20mph and sideways down over a vertical bank and into the brook. The RT passenger window was busted out when it hit a big rock sticking up out of the brook, and the brook was running through the RT (lower) part of the van. The impact of hitting the brook, probably tail first, also blew out the RT rear window and crunched the RT rear corner.
view of the van from up the road
view of the van from down the road, looking in direction of travel. My RT wheel track is in the foreground. I couldn't get the driver's window open to get out of the van, so I broke the driver's window and used a stick in the car to knock out all the glass. Then I climbed out through the window, onto the LT front tire, and out onto the bank. If there'd been even a small snowbank here, it would have kept me from going over the bank. It just slid over in slow motion.
The tow driver didn't think he could get it out, but he was up for the challenge - I later found out it was more than just the "challenge" - the guy charged the insurance company over $700 for a couple hours work!
One big problem was the one large and one very large sharp rock jutting way out from the nearly vertical bank. He couldn't drag the van up over them without tearing out the whole bottom of the van.
He had to pick up the van by the nose and drag it down the road, rotating it on its tail, away from the big rocks sticking out. You can see how close he had to get to the edge of the narrow road to try to swing the bottom of the van back around the big rock.
Slowly getting it hoisted
This was while he had it partially hoisted, then dragging it down the road, away from the jutting rocks. The tree apparently creased the hood as the van slid down the bank.
After much work, he finally got the front end dragged down the road, past the rocks. You can see from the reflection on the ground how slick and slippery it was here. It was so slippery, we kept sliding and nearly falling, and the tow truck was being dragged around.
Here, he finally got it dragged past the second rock.
It was still quite tricky getting it the rest of the way out. The back of his truck kept sliding around on the ice. You can see where the passenger door fell onto the big rock jutting out of the brook & dented it in.
Here, he rigged a second cable to a tree to help pull it out. You can see the front of his truck is out in the snowbank on the narrow road, so he had a hard time maneuvering.
Here, it's very nearly out. The second cable to the tree helped him get it this far, but then prevented him from just heading down the road like this to get it the rest of the way out. So, he had to jockey back and forth with the two cables until the rear wheels were all the way out.
After the van was out, you can see the two jutting rocks that made it much harder to get it out. You can also see the rock in the middle of the brook that took out the passenger window when the van fell onto it (where all the green glass bits are). The red is my USMC hat, which I later retrieved.
Here's some of the many things that came out the broken side window or the broken rear window. The van hit hard on the RT rear as it fell, taking out the RT rear window, too. Some more stuff fell out the rear window as we hoisted the van. The red is my spare gas can and the black thing beyond it is the case for my $500 aviation headsets. I went down and retrieved all the stuff I could find before we left. On the RT side of the pic, you can see the rocks that form the bank.
The tow truck driver said it's definitely a total. Bummer. No major damage, but lots of minor damage all around the vehicle. Looking at possible replacements now. New ones are $30K plus!
2009 FOLLOWUP - it was totalled, even though there was nothing functionally wrong with it. Some of the damage was just from getting it out. Mainly, the sheet metal was just well hammered on 3 sides. I bought it back from the insurance company and continued to drive it until hassles from NH DMV became too much - they expected me to return it to full appearance, and wouldn't let me get it inspected. I renewed the registration for 2008-09, but in 2009, they wouldn't let me renew the registration, and the hassles forced me to stop driving it in NH.
The right rear quarter got pretty well crunched. I sealed it all up with spray insulating foam, added the missing lights, and replaced the busted out window with plexiglas. It had to be plexiglas (warmed up as I installed it) so it would curve to follow the bent sheet metal. It's held in place by lots of sheet metal screws around the perimeter, and sealed with plenty of bathtub calk. It all works fine, except the back door. NH claimed "all doors have to work", so they wouldn't let me get it inspected; totally bogus. The side door works fine. I also replaced the passenger door, as the mirror housing crunched the door frame in, preventing me from just replacing the door window glass. The fit wasn't perfect, but good enough. Total repair cost - maybe $100.
I could have replaced the hood for a better look, but this works fine and stays locked down OK, so why bother?
The other side of the van looks normal. Wheel alignment all checked out fine. I drove it in NH for a year and a half like this.
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