Blog Template Musings about Geocaching: Terrible accident mars beginning of Christmas caching trip

Musings about Geocaching

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Terrible accident mars beginning of Christmas caching trip

Christmas weekend was approaching and I had an invitation to join smilinglady13 on a trip to Death Valley. She had everything planned and had already paid for the campsite at the Furnace Creek campground.

After some initial hesitation, I accepted the invitation. We hit the road at 7:00 Saturday, Christmas Eve morning. Along the way, we stopped for a few Geocaches, including "Boron Hilton" and "Mamaloo's Mammoth Run - Johannesburg" and "Lots-of-bushes cache."

On our way north on Highway 395, I was watching my map on my GPSr, looking for caches along the way. Just about the time I noticed a cluster of caches on the GPSr map, we saw a plume of very black smoke off in the distance. The closer we got, the more we realized it was a car fire.

Finally we came upon a horrific scene. A BMW SUV was nose to nose with a completely-engulfed pickup truck. The BMW had been traveling north at a very high rate of speed, passing on a curve, when it hit a pickup truck head on.

This is the section of road where the accident happened, along with the tracks from my GPSr.

When we arrived, there were several men trying to attach a tow rope to the BMW to pull it away from the truck.

We stopped and I got out to take some pictures of all the action.

In this picture you can see the yellow tow strap attached to the BMW. This was the second attempt to pull the BMW away from the truck. The first attempt we saw, the web strap broke under the strain.

After the BMW had been pulled away, there were flames at the front of the car that people soon put out with water and fire extinguishers.

I took some more pictures of the truck and then realized a victim of the accident was being helped by some people. Since there were no police or paramedics on the scene yet, I ran back to the Jeep. Smilinglady13 is a nurse and I thought they might need her expertise.

And they did. Even after the paramedics arrived, she continued to help as they prepared that victim, Dr. Jeff Novak, the local veterinarian, and the other victim, for transport by helicopter to Arrowhead hospital and another medical center.

Paramedics from the helicopter approach the accident scene

The three people in the BMW did not survive.

After the accident, we continued on our way, trying to get over the stress of the accident scene through the diversion of looking for and finding several more Geocaches before arriving at our Furnace Creek campsite well after dark.

Footnote: On our way back from the weekend, while we waited for smilinglady13's Jeep to be fixed in Ridgecrest, we spoke to some men who knew Dr. Novak.

I showed them the pictures on my digital camera. Even though one of Dr. Novak's family members was distressed that I was taking pictures at the accident scene two days earlier, it was actually a good thing my first reaction was to get out my camera and take pictures to document the horrible scene. These two men were able to see what their friend had been through and realize what a miracle it was that he survived.


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