An accident like the one we survived is a horrific event. I chose to take pictures of it and I hesitated for fear of appearing ghoulish. But after the bicycle accident last October, (my blog entitled Black Monday) where I took three pictures and felt guilty about it and stopped, I found out through the long process , when the Highway Patrol needed my pictures, and after becoming friendly with the victims Essya Nabballi and Martha Wright, that it was the right thing to do. So, I hope these photos offend no one.
This photo shows the long drop we took.
driver, front, radioed the office several times for help, telling them
we need paramedics, NOW! There is no signal in the canyon for cell
phones for those who tried dialing 911. And, when you accept the remote
location, when you accept the beauty and adventure you are about to
enjoy, you also surrender those conveniences we've come to know,
including immediate emergency services.
and I were seated right behind the driver. The road is bumpy, rutted,
rock strewn and I watched as he navigated the half day journey to our
lunch spot through the many twists and turns, around downed trees and
through heavy sands and mud. I can only say, Deschennes Davidson is an
excellent, driver, a strong man who knows this road. When we left our
lunch spot and began the ascent, I saw him go over a berm, he turned
his wheel frantically to the right, but the vehicle continued to the
left. Jim yelled, we are going over. And I dove for the floor as others
who heard him did the same.
were only about five of us who were mobile, to help the others. In this
tragedy, there was good luck in that the incident happened so close to
the lunch stop, that the tour that pulled in behind us for their lunch,
heard the screams and the shouts and the noise and came to see. They
were our rescuers and, they came running to help. Though I know none of
them, I saw them all working their hearts out, and we are ever grateful
to them. Bill, Anita, Jim, Davidson, and myself were unable to do much.
Jean and Chris, a couple from Wisconsin were unhurt and did most of the
heavy hauling in our group and continued when the other tour members
my own situation, Jim and I were protected somewhat by the cab. Thus
our injuries were not as severe as others. I was trapped and pinned
painfully under a collapsed bench with the woman above, Deby, sitting
on top of it. She struggled to lift her weight up so that I could remove
my painful breast, ribs and back out. My hand was still trapped under
the back of the bench seat, now with her full weight turning my hand
numb. I was able to dig in the dirt and free my hand. Deby struggled
to get out and became the first to get out. She was worried because her
husband was struggling to breathe. I went out behind her. Then they got
her husband, Richard, out.
was helped out behind Richard and others worked getting the most
injured out of the wreck. They were closer to the ground at the back of
the truck and took the brunt of the crash. Jim was mobile for awhile.
He laid in the shade to rest and was never able to really navigate on
his own after that.
black Monday, I took pictures of the undercarriage of the truck. A
gentleman from the other tour was a mechanic and he held up the tie rod,
showing that it was missing the nut and cotter pin, thus the driver had
no control of his steering.
favorite canon camera was scraped and crushed under the truck, but I
used my alternate camera and just kept taking pictures and documenting
everything I could. I had also brought a half-gallon jug of water and
became the official water person, moving from group to group and trying
to keep water in the small bottles. We luckily had a former medic from
Viet Nam, his name is Beau, from Virginia, who knew what to do and he
kept order. Moving from place to place making sure everyone could wiggle
their toes, move their hands, and talk. He instructed helpers to keep
them talking, keep them hydrated, keep the sun off them so they wouldn't
burn. He was indispensable and Beau, where ever you are, we are so
very grateful. He worked extensively with Richard, clearing his
breathing passages, talking to him, begging him to keep breathing,
giving him CPR. Richard went into shock and died at the scene. Beau
went off to himself and cried a bit, and then came back to pitch in. The
driver, too, was much affected by Richard's death and got sick in the
bushes. None of us were left untouched.
woman and her husband were determined by the first medics on the scene
to be the most severely injured. He kept demanding to be by his wife.
She could hear him and said tell him it is his fault I won't be able to
make my class on Monday, because he wanted to take this damn tour. With
her sense of humor intact, he was then calm enough to quit trying to get
up and move about. She lay in this position the entire time.
took over an hour to get everyone out from under the truck. It was
three hours before the helicopter arrived to take people out. The first
plan was to fly them out of the canyon to ambulances waiting above on
the overlook. But, the injured were severe and were taken directly to a
trauma center and a second helicopter dispatched.
without all the helping hands of the second tour group, the job of
making it up to the copter would have been much more difficult and
timely. Circumstances, not birth, make people heroes.
with his jacket over his head, sheltered and kept his injured wife's
spirits up as best he could through the entire three hours. He, too was
injured and needed stitches in his head. She was in the most pain and
her screams of pain is what brought the group to help us.
and her friend Anita sat next to the truck, both complaining of being
in pain, but feeling okay. But, when they tried to get up, Margaret could
not walk and had to be carried out on a back board as well.
the last helicopter left, with the sight of the ancient ruins behind
it, I couldn't help but think, what a different world we live in
compared to the ancients. We will never know them, but we all
experienced the beauty of this special place. (You can click on any of these photos to make them larger.)