Looking back at Sunday

So here’s what I remember happened on Sunday. When I missed the Stop Sign, I hit an oncoming vehicle. The Black vehicle is my 2020 Jeep Wrangler, and the Grey vehicle is the 2018 Jeep Cherokee that I hit.

I was asked why the air bags in my Jeep didn’t deploy, and why was there no broken glass. The only answer I can think of is that I was going slower than the other vehicle, coming off a smaller side road where the speed limit is lower than the main road the other vehicle was traveling in. And then there’s the spin factor. 🙂

When impact occurred, my Jeep’s front bumper absorbed the impact, and the angle of impact sent me into a tail spin. I remember sitting straight up and not being tossed around, I was close to center mass of my now spinning Jeep. I remember having to put my left hand back onto the steering wheel while I was spinning. This might explain why it was swolen, getting yanked off the steering wheel.

When the Jeep came to a stop, I ending up pointing in the same direction I was heading in. Basically I did a 360 spin. Bizarre and lucky.

From the looks of it, my front fender impacted the other vehicle just behind its front left wheel. The other vehicle’s driver door got completely bashed in, about 6″ from its original position. If you notice the forward edge of the other vehicle’s driver door, that’s where my front bumper got caught, sending my Jeep into a tail spin.

The other vehicle’s driver door hinges were destroyed. Its lock was disengaged, making it easy(ier) to pull the door out by hand. So it wasn’t adrenaline that let me yank the door out, it was mechanical failure. So no, I did not become the Hulk. #egoSad

The other vehicle ended up in the ditch, the illustration shows my best guess on how it got there. If I were the other driver, my reflex would have had me steer away from the impact. Guessing since the airbags in the other vehicle deployed, the driver had no idea he was going into a ditch.

Anyway, that’s what I remember. I could be off. But the pictures support the theory. Now I wait for the estimate to come in. I expect to have to buy the lift kit all over again, and pay to have the front half of it (re)installed.

Good news Wednesday

The good news is my left hand is not broken, but likely sprained. #iceIceBaby

The Adjustor pinged me to confirm the shop (Jeff Daniel’s Jeeps) can repair the Jeep. That’s a huge relief, since they’re the experts when it comes to Jeeps!

Now we wait to see what I need to buy so the shop can restore the front end so it is lifted and has quick releases, control bar, geometry correction brackets, etc.

Offroad Consulting contacted me when they heard about the accident, offering to send me a refund. #nuhUh I asked them to hold the 201 class fee, since I plan to attend once the Jeep is back on the road. I was sooo ready for the class this past Sunday! 🙂

Here’s a pic showing how swollen my left hand was earlier in the week. The swelling is mostly gone, and I can finally grab a coffee cup with it.

I figure in another week or two it’ll be back to normal. If I had to ride my Harley-Davidson Road Glide, wouldn’t be able to right now, wouldn’t be able to use the clutch.

And then came Tuesday

Tuesday was spent on the phone and on the internet, trying to sort out all the stuff I need to do. The worst time to make financial mistakes is when there’s an accident. I know the next few days are going to be challenging.

I spent most of the day chasing down the tow truck driver to get a status update. As of late afternoon, he is still on his way from the tow lot to the shop (Jeff Daniel’s Jeeps). I didn’t ask, but I’m guessing the tow truck is actually a car hauler that has more vehicles on it than just my Jeep. If that’s the case the Jeep may not get to the shop today.

I called the auditor so I can prepare on my end. This can end up being a repair, or a write-off, with different action items for me depending on how things play out. This way I can prepare now instead of being reactive later.

Repairable

If the Jeep is repairable, the Adjustor and shop will work together on what needs to be repaired. I already know the after market lift is going to be out of pocket, which sucks, since I’d only need to replace the front half of the kit. Its possible the right headlight might be busted, another half kit needed there. The tires look good. Its a good thing I stuck with the cheap OEM steel wheels.

Writeoff

If its a writeoff, Geico pays the bank the value of the Jeep, and my GAP insurance covers the cost between value and the amount outstanding on the loan. I checked with the Jeep dealer on how the insurance and bank would play out. I can start the process of getting a loan for the new Jeep the dealer is holding for me. Apparently this is not an uncommon scenario, and as long as you have good credit, the new car would amount to a day at the dealer. Thankfully I have excellent credit (though not a member of the 800 club yet).

Its 5PM – so what now?

I logged on to https://ujsportal.pacourts.us to pay off the two citations. I was able to pay off one of them (failing to stop at a stop sign), but for some reason the second citation (careless driving) requires a check or money order to be mailed to them. Who uses checks or money orders?! I called the Magistrate and confirmed I’ll need to use mail for the second citation. I’ll get it in the mail tomorrow.

Geico confirmed my medical coverage will take care of the x-ray. So I’m trying to find a local diagnostics place that can take walk-ins. I called Aetna so they’re aware of what’s going on, even if they’re not involved. Its good that they know. Luckily there’s no medical deductible for Geico.

I check in daily with the folks at work so they know what’s going on. I hate that this is happening when we’re short staffed, and during the COVID fiasco. But that’s what PTO is for, though I wish this didn’t happen so I can use my days for my Summer road trip. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Manic Monday

Here are all the pictures I took of the Jeep the day of the accident.

So I got up early this morning to coordinate with Geico, insurance adjuster, Enterprise Rent A Car, Uber (well really a retired couple), the towing company (PA State Police moved from impact spot to tow lot), and if there is time the PA State Police (copy of police report), and my local Jeep dealer.

Geico and I took turns trying unsuccessfully to get through to the nearest Enterprise Rent a Car, finally got through. They’re not “picking up” customers, so I needed to get an Uber driver (the retired couple; awesome company on rides!). Drove away in a Hyundai Elantra. #meh

I arrived at the tow lot, transferred my belongings, ezpass, license plate, YET, tools, etc., from the Jeep to the rental. Called Geico, they scheduled a tow company to bring the Jeep to Jeff Daniel’s Jeeps on Tuesday morning.

They told me not to bother with the PA State Police, since I’m at fault and the other driver’s insurance company will contact them. They asked me to upload all the photos, so I’m doing that now. Thank you Apple for AirDrop! Uploading through the Geico iOS app is like being humped by a fierce arctic moose. #justSaying

Tomorrow (Tue) is a big day. I’ll find out if the Jeep is a write off, or if it’ll be fixed. If Jeff Daniel’s Jeeps says it can be fixed, I trust their judgement. If the adjuster says so, I’ll probably crawl into a ball and cry. The thought of crawling over boulders in a Jeep that had it’s frame welded back together is scary. Fingers crossed, my life is in their hands!

Given the off chance that the Jeep might be written off, I went to Jeff D’Ambrosio and picked one out and put a refundable deposit on it. Its the same exact Jeep. But its Red. And it has a remote lock key fob and speed sensitive auto door locks. And it has a hard top with tinted windows. And it has has power-heated windows, heated leather steering wheel, and water proof heated front seats. And it has automatic LED headlights, fog lights, tail lamps, and interior lights. And it has climate control, HomeLink, blind-spot and cross-path detection. And it has a 7″ CarPlay head unit. And it has auto headlamps. And it has 17″ allow wheels. And it has a security alarm. Otherwise, its exactly the same as the old Jeep.

Geico told me I could take the side steps off my Jeep since it was after market. I can take the tires off, but the new jeep has 17″ wheels, so I’m going to try to swing a deal to give them back the OEM 31″ tires, so I can sell the 33″ Nitto A/T tires (they have <1,000 miles on them). I’ll need to bring them the back bench seat, which I took off on day one, and I plan to do the same on the new Jeep.

That is, if the Geico adjuster cares about my health and well being, since, well, you know, welding a bent/cracked frame on a vehicle designed to go over boulders (oh, and some mall crawling) is dangerous. #fingersCrossed

I will know more tomorrow, after I get my left hand x-rayed.

Dammit

A funny thing happened on the way to Offroad Consulting’s 201 class. I scouted the route from home to Rausch Off Road Park two weekends ago. Lots of windy roads. Went there for the 101 class last week. This morning I was involved in an accident heading there for the 201 class. I’m a very careful driver, having only been in two accidents in my lifetime. Before today.

Germany

I was stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany in 1982 when I bought my first new car, a VW GTi. I was nearing the end of my 6 year enlistment and it was the US Army’s policy to ship your car back to the US at the end of your term. I knew I wanted a GTi, and during the time lots of my buddies were buying BMWs and Benzes. I had an accident so that car never made it to the US.

I hated being cooped up in the barracks so I always went out on weekends, usually exploring back roads in the Schweinfurt area. One beautiful weekend I was driving around a corner and of a sudden I lost control. The GTi spun around and hit a farm tractor. The Polezi ended up citing the farmer for driving his tractor off the farm and onto a portion of the road that was off limits to farm vehicles. Apparently he tracked a lot of mud on the road and that caused my GTi to lose grip.

I was 21 at the time and luckily the farmer’s insurance paid for all the damage. I ended up going back to New York City, and not needing or wanting a car for some years.

Delaware

Fast forward to 2015 and I’m merging my Honda 2014 CR-V onto the New Jersey Turnpike. I’m heading towards Nyack New York to meet some friends for a bicycle ride and a picnic. I remember traffic was crawling, like 1-2 mph. I’m merging into the turnpike, with plenty of space, and some moron speeds up and cuts me off. I’m already half way into the right lane. He decided to keep going and he dinged my fender.

I yelled at the idiot to stop but he wouldn’t. Two of the lanes were closed due to construction, and there were some police cars on the closed lanes. So I pulled over and got the attention of a trooper told him what just happened, and he calmly walked over to the fleeing driver and had him pull over.

I don’t mean to make light of the situation, but it was the slowest car chase ever. We were on foot and the idiot was barreling along at 1-2 mph hoping to get away. The guy finally pulled over and the next thing I know the guy is in handcuffs.

The police officer told me he was citing the driver for (1) driving while smoking pot, (2) being in possession of a controlled substance, (3) driving with a suspended license, and (4) trying to flee the scene of the accident. It was almost like a Wiley Coyote vs Roadrunner scene but in slow motion. I have a video.

Today

So this brings us to today. What happened?

Well I’m driving along beautiful roads and all of a sudden I hear a loud impact, and I remember the Jeep doing a 360 spin. The tires sounded like a movie chase scene. The impact seemed muffled, almost subdued. The Airbags did not deploy, and I didn’t expect them to. There was no broken glass, and the GoPro suction cup mount didn’t come off the windshield. It was surreal.

When the Jeep stopped spinning it was precisely on the middle of the intersection, and pointing in the same direction I was heading in. There was a doughnut shaped set of tire tracks showing the Jeep did a 360. I put the flashers on, and ran to the other car that was in a ditch, leaving my car in the middle of the intersection.

When I got to the car I saw that the drivers door was caved in about 6” and the glass was shattered. I saw the driver’s arm, it was a little bloody from the glass, but moving. I asked the driver if he was ok and I started to grab the door, he told me in a somewhat relaxed voice “you won’t be able to open the door”.

They must not make cars like they used to. I put my right foot up against the car, gave it everything I had and yanked the door wide open. For a moment I felt like the Hulk. I felt something pop in my left hand, i guess I’ll know tomorrow if I broke it.

Once everyone was out of the other car and reported that they were ok, I offered the driver and passengers water, they all declined then went to my Jeep and grabbed the GoPro to see if I could figure out what happened. After reviewing the video clips I realized I drove right past the stop sign. I’m not sure how I could have missed it.

I let the driver and his passengers know the accident was my fault. When the police arrived I quickly informed them as well. The officer was courteous and professional, I could sense hesitation when the officer told me there was no choice but to cite me for (1) careless driving and (2) driving through a stop sign.

Without hesitation I told the officer I deserved both I’m a firm believer in accountability. Seemed like the officer never experienced this level of full transparency, the officer looked a bit shocked at how I responded.

The officer called a truck to have both vehicles towed to a lot. I called Geico to report the accident. Confirmed I’m fully covered, I asked the driver to take a photo of my drivers license, then I got called over by the officer for some questions. Didn’t get the chance to ask the driver for his license and insurance info. Geico told me not to worry since their insurance would contact Geico anyway.

I’m staying in an area hotel tonight. They had someone pick me up. Tomorrow I’ll call Geico and Jeff Daniel’s Jeeps to see if they can handle the repairs. If so I’ll have the Jeep towed to his shop. Then the adjuster can look at the car and work can begin, or the car can be written off as a total loss, since the frame is broken in front. If not. Geico will ask my local Jeep dealer for a recommendation.

The last eight hours have been quite the experience. In the time that it took me to type this blog post on my iPhone, I realize I can’t grab anything with my left hand. I’ll find out tomorrow if its broken.

Offroad Consulting 201 class

I’m preparing for Offroad Consulting’s 201 class this Sunday (May 17). I was able to find some lashing straps to better secure the YETI Roadie 20 cooler. The YETI almost killed me when I was going over some rough terrain. I can imagine the “Jeep trail rider killed by YETI” headlines

The tie down slots in the YETI (that I had no idea were there) take up to a 1″ wide strap. So I bought two CamJam tie down straps that are designed for tying down Polyethylene kayaks to car roof racks. These things are strong as heck, and they have a rubber (?) piece under the tiny ratchet to keep the strap from moving around. Easy to use too.

[UPDATE]

Next I need to figure out what accessory I need to mount my GoPro HERO 7 inside the car.

I was able to find a GoPro swivel mount at the nearest BestBuy. So I can mount my GoPro to the inner windshield. Why not outside? Mud. I’m not worried about the rain/mud, since its waterproof, and I have a couple X~PWR-H5 cables, but I don’t want to have to jump outside to wipe the lens every time there’s splatter.

So I’ll need to find a rotating mount. I have a waterproof cable that’ll reach the USBA/C ports so I can plug the waterproof cable to work off power (not that I’ll need that level of protection inside the Jeep).

I’m hoping for another puddle, maybe Pit Sr. But if its deeper than 36″ I’ll pass. Since I didn’t get a chance to get a snorkel kit installed. That would raise the air intake to the top edge of the windshield if you leave the whole kit installed. If you remove the tall part of the kit, the base still moves the air intake to 6-8″ higher than stock. This is the one I plan to order but not this season.

I can’t wait for tomorrow, neither can my GoPro (she had to sit out the last ride). I’ll be ready. I hope.