Liberty Memorial Day Weekend May 2002

Hi All
By now you all probably know that We had a bad roll over at Liberty on Sunday. As always roll overs are not a good thing . Tom James was being watched over on our Sunday run on the 332 trail . Those that have been there know that there is one mean ass hill on it. So here is the way it went down. I was leading the run. We had in order: Me (Dan Ostler) Tom James and his copilot Colin .I don’t know his last name. Colin is the son of a good friend of Toms. Todd Daman, Scott Hanline and Rock Bybee.

Traction this weekend was rather poor due to the dirt having no moisture in it. It was like flower with marbles in it. On the big hill I went first and made it up with slow but sure progress and only a moderate bit of butt pucker (this is not a hill that you want to have something go wrong) Once on top I turned around to set up to winch up the rest of the party if needed. The last time on this hill we had to have the stock rig go up till they lost traction and then winch them the last 20 or so yards.
Toms turn.
Tom started up the hill with everything going as expected. He reached the spot that stops most of the rigs just fine .That’s when it all fell apart . Much to my horror and I could see in Tom’s eyes to him as well, Instead of stopping as planned he started to slip back down the slope. He later said that he heard something in the rear end let go. All that left was the front end and the brakes. On that steep of a slope that just wasn’t enough to hold him there. He did all that he could in my opinion to save his, but once he had the momentum he was screwed. The front tried to pass the back to the right and he caught it, then it tried and succeeded to pass him on the left. I did not get to see the roll because he left my view off the side of the ridge. Of the people who did see it they say he rolled from 4 to 7 times. He probably covered fifty yards before hitting one of the only two tree’s on the upper side of the slope. The tree stopped his rolling with the rig upright. Tom still was holding the brake peddle to the floor and it slid upright for about 50 more feet before stopping. If he had not hit the tree it could have rolled for another 50 yards before the next trees that could have stopped him. That would had a much different out come.
The out come:
Colin sustained a major Cut on the side of his head with severe bleeding. He must have hit his head at least 5 times that I could see, At least once on the ground. He was out of it and laying in Toms lap when the first help got to them. Todd’s brother jumped right in and applied the needed pressure to stop the bleeding. Tom was awake and alert, He some how managed not to hit head. Theirs to much for me to write here. In brief we called in 911, for help I put out a channel 4 call to all of the other PNW members in the area. The ARMY Blackhawk medic unit was there with in 20 minutes, To me the most impressive was all of the PNW folks that got there before that!! They relayed GPS coordinates via Scott Hanline To the local sheriff, to the dispatch then to the rescue chopper as to our exact location. The whole thing impressed the hell out of me. You could not have asked for a more competent group of people to have come together in a tragedy to get things done. Special thanks to Dale Newman and Merrick for being there so quickly. Rock Bybee His Wife Jeanne ,Scott Hanline, Jennifer Hanline, Todd Daman and his incredible brothers, and many others. I lost track of how many people showed up to help. We had 6 year old kids and there moms cleaning the debris field, one man in his sixties that had just come off of having chemo. There was no way to hold these people back .This is why organized four wheeling is the only way to do it. We went to Yakima on Monday night to see them. Tom has 6 broken ribs but is doing well. Still cracking jokes and they were to be home on Tuesday afternoon. We are going over to see him to night. Colin was released to his dad on Monday morning and he went home looking like one big bruise with a cool new hair cut. This was Collins first time on a jeep run. The Mangy Moose Survived but the Jeep is a total loss save maybe some drivetrain parts (sorry Tom). I have the Jeep and will deliver it when appropriate. PS. We saved the donuts as well.
Thanks to all.
Dan Ostler

Well – my doc says that what you take for broken ribs is a lot of pain medication….. Lots and LOTS of pain medication. So – this is one of my more lucid moments to write a few notes. But I’ll tell you – don’t take for granted all the little things you can do. Most of my breaths bring a stab of pain in my left back, I can’t laydown or sit up comfortably, pick up anything lower than waist high, or reach out for anything. That just about covers most things we as humans do for ourselves. Oh well – the lovely Mrs. James is still far more glad to see me kicking and breathing in pain, than have to be planning a funeral. Me too.

This oughta give me some time to actually get a Traction Action written, where I’ll tell you all about a hard roll from the inside out. I think here, I’ll just give the quick facts. As Dan reported, I wasn’t liking the steepness of the hill, but I never do. But trusting the Moose, as I’ve come to do, I knew it should be able to climb. And going up in 1st gear in the Moose is an 89:1 reduction, which I figured was slow enough to climb if there was traction, and to stop when there wasn’t any more. And the Moose was faithfully climbing – and was just getting over the rocks that Dan had struggled with a small amount, when some kind of wierd ratcheting noise started coming from the rear diff. I was hoping it was just the tire lugs sliding over a rock – but then realized it was something far more serious. The Moose was sliding backwards, I was standing on the brake, telling my passenger to grab the “oh shit” bar and hoping I could just keep straight going down the hill. It was not to be. After I realized I wasn’t going to stop with just one roll, I kept locked onto the steering wheel with my hands, had my head ducked, eyes closed to the dirt, and lost count of the revolutions.
I did stay alert, and relatively calm through the roll and afterwards. I was really concerned that Colin, my passenger, had been hurt very badly, and I noted that I could only breathe in short gasps because of pain in my lower side and back. As the Optima battery works upside down (Dan said he found it that way propped on the exhaust manifold) and the CB didn’t get creamed, I was listening to Scott Hanline relay radio traffic about who was notified, who was coming to help, I heard the relay of GPS coordinates for the Blackhawk that came to get me (my future son-in-law, former Army, said he would’ve gladly taken Colin’s place to get a ride in a Blackhawk Bird) and was able to call in my own support a little between breaths.
Scott’s wife, Jennifer was in her finest hour doing her “Clara Barton, nurse extraordinaire” imitation, as she held my hand, got me water, and cover me up when prop blast from the Blackhawk hit us with dust and branches. In the one picture Dan sent out, that indeed is me in the halter seat I’m in, getting pulled into the bird. You want to have new adventures in pain, get a ride in a contraption like that, bearing all of your weight on your 6 broken ribs! And I not only have 6 breaks – one rib is broken in two spots! Ouch!
As for the Moose – I never figured I’d lose it like this. Its insured against theft, not collision. So, on my ticket – looks like I’ll be looking for a new frame and tub on which to put the axles and drive train (and winch and Moose horn, of course!). And I won’t be starting any wrenching for about 2 months, since my doc says it’ll be that long before I get mended to a point of feeling like my old self.
The Moose is on its trailer – thanks to Julie Ostler for driving it home – although Dan tells me I may never get my “Burb back, she liked it so much! (They say possession is 9/10’s of the law?) It’s definitely going to be a frame off deal, because it is doing the crab walk. You’ll be glad to know that Dan finally got rid of the cow bell.
Most seriously, I also cannot say enough thanks to our club, the Tamers, and the other PNW clubs who provided assistance. I felt so well cared for, and just knew that all the loose ends I couldn’t handle, someone would. Dan was fabulous at keeping a clear head and grasp on assisting me and Colin, Scott was great at directing radio traffice, Rock ran back to the sheriff, other PNW members were on top of the hill eager to provide assistance, Julie drove the Moose home behind the Burb, Lori Y is having a few folks come by the house tonight to move some furniture so I can get a hospital bed into the house, and I’ve been offered assistance for when Moose rebuilding time comes. Maybe we can get a Moosenstein to emerge out of the lab. Anyway – from both me and Carla, thanks to all who expressed concern, and your offers of help. These are all parts of what makes this such a great great club to be a part.

Dear Timber Tamer Club,

Thank you friends, for caring for my brother, Tom James and his young passenger Colin Painter. I understand you all were instrumental in getting them out of the wilderness area and to medical attention on Sunday September 1. I’ve spoken to Tom briefly just to say I love him and to hang in there. But my sketchy information on the accident has come through Carla. She only said that the Jeep (the Moose) rolled downhill about 7 times till it hit a rock and bounced upright to stop against a tree. And that there weren’t many trees on that steep hill. He has 6 broken ribs and escaped serious spinal cord or head trauma. Thank the Lord for heavy duty roll bars, seat belts and rules for off road wheeling. Never go alone.
I’m convinced that your attention saved his life. And I thank all of you.
My brother has much experience in off road travel. On my few visits to Washington State, he’s taken me off-road in the Mangy Moose but what he calls the “tourist version”. Rumbling through streams and uphill along logging company paths has had me goggle-eyed and hanging on for dear life!! (My idea of rough traffic being the Long Island Expressway approaching the Tri Borough Bridge). And Tom would laugh and say he’d never go off road alone, just too dangerous. When he’s feeling better I’m going to ask him what he thinks happened on Sunday.
In the past he’s had me log on to this website to see pictures of the Moose decked out in Hawaiian leis and hula skirt. Other pictures with the Moose nose up on a rock pile or bumper to bumper solidly wedged between two trees. I made the mistake that time of asking how the hell he did that and he casually said he just slid sideways and got wedged tight between two trees. Well, it’s a useful skill to have in New York City if you ever intend to park on the street in Manhattan.
I hope he lets his ribs heal before he goes out again. And the poor Moose. I wonder if it can be resurrected? But your club has given Tom another chance to 4 wheel. Again, I thank you all.
Tom’s sister,
Deborah James Lein