Freak Accident Kills Good Samaritan Trying To Pull A Rig Out Of The Mud!

AbleGuy

Founder, Too Much Fun Club
Stay Safe Out There, Y’all!


From what I can interpret from this story, this well intentioned, helpful guy had headed out to try to pull another rig out of the mud, when his own truck got stuck. When his buddy showed up to then try to get this guy’s truck un-stuck, using his tow strap attached to his vehicle’s trailer hitch ball to pull his buddy out, this happened:
747410FF-3D67-4815-BD56-7DD65EC8C28D.jpeg

Somehow that ball hitch suddenly broke off the towing vehicle, and with great force and velocity, smashed through the stuck guy’s windshield, striking him in the head and killing him!

7A8AAC48-0B41-4935-8195-5A7D96BA8582.jpeg

It’s hard to imagine that something so strong as that 1/4” thick steel (?) hitch square tube could fracture and shear off so suddenly and completely as shown in the picture above. I would have guessed the webbing would have broken first. So that must have been one heck of a strong snatch strap!

Anyway, this sad and bizarre accident certainly can serve as a reminder to all to make double extra sure of our safety protocols and equipment when engaging in stuck vehicle recovery efforts.
 
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Verkstad

Raggarkung
It’s hard to imagine that something so strong as that 1/4” thick steel (?) hitch square tube could fracture and shear off so suddenly
Its not hard to imagine when we see ’The rest of the story’.
Who again was that guy who invented the lever ?
Fwiw,
That single gusset probably 1/2” thick or less made matters worse.
Btw,
How did this fail in shear ?
FCC1EAAB-7A6C-41D5-A736-41BDC9B7E3E5.jpeg
 

Metcalf

Expedition Leader
Condolences to the family.

That is a LOT of leverage on that tube, roughly a 5:1 mechanical advantage. It looks like the failure happened right in the heat effected zone at the toe of the weld for the gusset. It also looks like the material is a 'clean' tear with no real evidence of an old crack that was rusted.

This is a good reminder of how much force is generated when doing a kinetic recovery, and how important proper, inspected, and maintained gear is. I haven't heard how large the recovery vehicle was, but the stuck vehicle is an easy 7-8k empty.

My best advice with any 'bogged' type recovery ( sand, mud, etc ), when in doubt, use more shovel. The mire factor on this recovery was a contributing factor for sure. Going backwards often has lower recovery forces than going forward. Lifting the tires up and getting 'stuff' under them is usually my next cheat. Being able to directly lift the tire, without having to get under the vehicle, has a lot of overlooked value when building out your recovery kit. Both of those things don't require another vehicle to get involved. When you do get another vehicle involved, always try to eliminate loaded mass from the recovery system, while adding as much redundancy as practical. It should go without saying, that when doing a kinetic type recovery you need kinetic rigging to provide a slow release of input energy.

Stay safe everyone.
 

Metcalf

Expedition Leader
20220309_162626.jpg

My SSRA, Soft Shackle Reciever Adapter, 'SaRAh' Device. This is what I use to provide the safest possible connection when rigging to a receiver hitch. This device removes an extra connection point while providing proper support for the hitch pin and safe working radii for the soft shackle which provides maximum strength with minimal wear. The device also eliminates any extra leverage on the hitch assembly when pulling up to 90 degrees in any direction while having the lowest mass if, heaven forbid, something was to fail.

One other important thing to note about hitch mounted recovery gear, no matter what setup you use, DO NOT leave the device in your receiver hitch full time where it will be subjected to trail abuse. The hitch is commonly the lowest point on the rear of a vehicle and WILL commonly see contact off-road. Don't drag critical recovery gear you are betting your life on over every rock on the trail.
 

ABBB

Active member
My understanding is to never ever ever use the tow ball as a recovery point. There are other videos around of tow balls shearing off and narrowly missing windshields and onlookers. Horrifying stuff. What an awful thing to happen.
 

Wilbah

Adventurer
Scary stuff. Thanks for posting that. Always important to be reminded of the importance of safe techniques.
 

Metcalf

Expedition Leader
Another 'safe' option, if you get caught without the proper gear, is running the strap in a Choker (edit) configuration around the main crossover tube of the hitch assembly. This is generally a large diameter tube with soft corner radius. By the book, you give up 20% of the strap capacity running it in a basket, but this adds zero mass. If you have a soft shackle, this is also a solid technique as long as you are not pulling offline where you will run into hard corners. It also bypasses all the welding typical on the hitch assembly if you happen to spot any cracks or something else concerning in that part of the hitch.

I highly caution hooking a strap directly to the hitch pin. They are not designed to be center loaded and are rather weak in bending. Pulling in one side of the pin is also a possibility. The sharp edges of the hitch are also a danger to the rigging.
 
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Alloy

Well-known member
Using a snap/surge recovery (no matter how good the gear is) on a vehicle in mud is it's a sure way to get metal flying.

If the hitch didn't break the next point of failure would be the hitch pin or.....or...... breaking a chain was a warning about the amount of force needed but they kept going.

The first few attempts failed with one of the chains failing to be strong enough and broke after the second pull. After that the strap was connected directly to one front tow point. After a few light tugs the truck wasn’t budging. Knowing more force was needed to pluck this 9,000lb truck out of the mud he backed up a few feet to get a better start..........
 

JaSAn

Well-known member
So:
How (is there) a safe way to use the receiver as an anchor for extraction?​

- And -

How do I size the tow strap or do I just get the biggest available?​
 

Verkstad

Raggarkung
Another 'safe' option, if you get caught without the proper gear, is running the strap in a basket configuration around the main crossover tube
Sounds great if you dont mind losing 50% of strap length and/or changing value of riggings kinetic properties.
 

dstefan

Well-known member
Sad event.

For all of us feeling that synthetic lines, dampers, etc give us a real safety margin, this Ronny Dahl vid, and several others hes done, are very sobering.

 

Alloy

Well-known member
Sounds great if you dont mind losing 50% of strap length and/or changing value of riggings kinetic properties.
It's an "option".

I'd be looking to see what class Hitch it is, how the cross arms are attached and securing the line/strap it so it doesn't slide off to the side.
 

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