Hypothetical Recovery Question

OK, we've all helped someone out of a bad situation; stuck, high centered, whatever. Could you imagine a vehicle in a spot so dangerous or precarious that you would not help drag it out? If so, what would that situation look like? What would you be willing to do?
I once tried to tow a full size Bronco out of a muddy ditch with my Grand Cherokee. Basic physics was not on my side and when the Bronco started to slide sideways downslope, it pulled the Jeep with it. I unhooked quickly and waited for something bigger to come along. Then the Bronco almost took a full size Chevy truck down with it.
Similarly, I would be cautious of anything that was in a position to build leverage or momentum that could take my vehicle to a bad place with it.

I am also willing to help almost anyone, anywhere, with recovery, wrenching, or rides to civilization, but every now and then you come across someone with an attitude that says "keep driving".

I've been helped or towed enough to pay it forward whenever I can.
a while back someone was discussing beach stuckedness. his attitude was if they stuckee never aired down, he kept going.
That's unnecessarily harsh IMO.

Not everyone knows to air down. Everyone starts at the beginning, and not everyone knows to air down. Yes, they should have done their homework and come prepared, but everyone makes mistakes.


I won't help if:
- there's a risk of harm to people/animals/my vehicle
- there's a risk of harm to the vehicle being recovered, and the owner is not willing to take 100% full responsibility for it
- the vehicle owner gives off a bad vibe (drunk/stoned/aggressive/otherwise shady)
- I'm not at lest 95% sure I can recover the vehicle
from a time consideration perspective, I tend to think i'd go with the "aired-down" option. bulleted lists tend to eat up the whole day.

reminds me of Frank (?) of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers Fame*. he was walking down the street in his normally dazed condition when accosted by a robber.

"gimme all yer money" the crook said.

well, Frank, in his stoned stupor, started to mentally locate "...all yer money." okay, there's the sixteen dollars in my wallet, and another 83 cents in my left front pocket. and my emergency dime for phone calls (it was a simpler time) in the left shoe. oh; the twenty-seven dollars on my bureau at home, and the fiver Aunt Gail gave me for my birth . . .

"oh, **** man. I just can't do it!"


*I just threw in the last capital F

Happy Joe

Apprentice Geezer
Kool! ...Fabulous Furry Freak Bros.
(A blast from another (past) life...)

(all that follows happened, most more than once))
For vehicles stuck sideways on a (+30 deg.) hill; loan them a snatch strap so they can run it from a front tow point, around a substantial up hill tree, to a rear tow point the have them drive (their risk) until it is pointed up hill or down then unhook your strap and drive away... (before they can seriously mess up)... Proper, frame mounted, recovery points, front and rear are essential!
For vehicles with one side half off a cliff winch them side ways, using a tree and a snatch block, back onto the road/trail...(driving/pulling forward or back often can result in a lost/rolled vehicle)...
For vehicles with drivers too afraid to continue; jump in and drive it to a more or less level spot (the last one involved driving off a 3-4 foot ledge)..
For vehicles already shiny side down; flip them over and move them safely off the trail.... (the alternative being to drive over them; which might be fun/challenging but would not be cool).
For vehicle blocking the trail winch them side ways until you can get by.
For vehicles stuck on wide, steep, moguly hills drive around them through the worst part, without tire spin, and keep on going...
For vehicles stuck in water crossings I may hand them the end of the winch cable and then winch them out or pull their OEM or aftermarket bumper off... (proper, frame mounted, recovery points are essential!).
IMO vehicle stuck in deep mud are their owner's problem (essentially, pulled a pickup apart trying to get it out once); a Jeep is NOT a tow truck!
For vehicles that just spun out after passing you on ice; signal your appreciation of their driving skills with lights and horn and keep on truckin'....
Lack of intelligence, foresight, preparation or skill on someone else's part does not constitute an emergency on my part; or a need to risk anything at all, although, I may relent if there are children involved.

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For me...the situation gets broken down into two categories.

1) Getting all the folks involved in the...stuck/deep water crossing/about to fall off a cliff/rolled over...rig out of harms way. If this means putting myself at risk, regardless of their condition...so be it.

2) Accessing the situation concerning the disabled rig...and deciding if the recovery was worth the risk of damaging/loosing another rig or injuring a person(s).

Once everyone is in a safe area and the recovery has been accessed and determined worthwhile, l like to worse-case-scenario the situation...and work backwards from there. As in...if things go bad, let's try to keep them to a minimum.

First, if possible, secure disabled vehicle with straps or chains to a solid object, preferably in the direction you will be pulling. Then lay out all of the rigging that will be needed to attempt a winching or tug operation. No sense getting your vehicle into position, then come to find out you don't have enough recovery gear. Once you've laid out enough recovery gear, position your vehicle in the best position possible. Secure your vehicle to another vehicle, and if possible have that rig a little down hill from yours...if no other vehicle is present...use a solid object (tree, boulder, etc). If no other objects are in reach...then you have to decide whether or not to continue. This is where "good-common-sense-judgement" comes into play. Rarely do people get hurt when this is applied to any recovery situation. Now, "poor -judgement"...gets folks hurt or worse yet...killed. If number one priority has been completed (folks safe), then number two is not important at all. That rig can sit in it's precarious situation until the cows come home...or until an appropriate alternative is reach for a safe recovery.

Came across a group of vehicles, where one guy flipped his newer Chevy 1500. The driver was out and walking about. It became quickly apparent that alcohol and speeding/racing were factors.

We just as quickly made the decision to move on our way.

I would have been more than happy to help if someone was in distress, but this particular situation had the potential to go south, quickly.
all the youtubes which show guys flipping & trashing there trucks and laughing about it makes me realized there are a number of deranged syndromes.

anyway, if someone bashes up their vehicle out in east gaidoria somewhere, and manages to make it back to civilization, what happens to the vehicle? I understand a responsible person would have some inclination to get the trash back to the crusher yard, but how many guys strip their vehicle and torch it or whatever, and then claim it's been stolen?

maybe a bit dramatic, but seriously, how do these hulks get hauled out?
I consider a few things.

Is human life/safety at risk? Is making the recovery necessary to mitigate the risk?
Does the other driver "deserve" the situation they are in? Is this someone making an honest effort to wheel responsibly and got in over their head, or was reckless behavior, intoxicants, etc. involved?
Are they accessible by professional (licensed, insured business) recovery? If I don't help them, who else can/will?
Will recovery damage the vehicle?
Will leaving the vehicle there negatively impact third parties?

I've gone past a sedan slid into the ditch because it looked like pulling it back onto the road might damage the underside of the car. The car had been there three days, in a residential area with cell service, and on the third day the driver was back flagging people down to ask for help. Obviously didn't need the car to get anywhere urgently. I'll let the pros or somebody less concerned about getting sued for ripping the muffler out from under the car handle that one.

I've pulled an F250 out of a river because the truck was totaled (hydrolocked engine and completely flooded with glacial silt runoff). Aside from the totaled condition of the truck, the recovery was low risk. Good angle to pull from, flat firm sandy river bottom. The truck was already a loss, so any damage caused by the recovery would be inconsequential. I instructed the owner how to rig up to his truck, but had him do all the work (and swimming!). Other users of this public land were rubbernecking and driving by, and the area is mostly used by ATVs and SxSs. If I didn't pull him out, the truck would have stayed overnight and settled deeper into the riverbed. I was getting trash out of the river, and moving it to an area where a commercial wrecker could come get it. This guy ranked very high on the "you deserve the situation you're in" scale, but surely losing the truck was punishment/education enough.


West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
If you have a vehicle with a winch and other recovery tools you wind up helping others' out of their mess 95% of the time compare to self extraction. The longer I live the less I want to get involved in others' follies, now mostly because of the current litigious nature of society and the possibility of a lawsuit if things go south. Yes, I've pulled many a poor soul from bottomless muck or the result of their bad decisions or inadequate preparation. As noted above, with experience, you get vibes from stuckee's as to whether they're intoxocated/high or if you can even help them at all with their stick. Of the scores of times I've winched someone out, I've never been thanked or given a second thought. Here's another recovery escapade I call "David vs. Goliath":
Around 1969 on one of the southernmost beaches at Pismo we came upon a very long and large motor home called, The CONDOR!. The thing was huge. He was below the high tide line with the tide coming in with the rear powered axle taking him down to the frame in sand. I bade the operator to reduce the tire pressure in all 8 wheels (tag axle) down from 110 pounds to 40 pounds. Also using my shovel he cut little sand ramps up in front of all the wheels This took a while which gave me time to position my FJ-40 Land Cruiser (now in a David vs. Goliath scenario) about 110 feet in front of and facing the CONDOR!. I put the rig in 2WD reverse and put the rear end down near the frame. I then attached the 125 foot winch line to the front I-beam axle of the CONDOR! winding in the slack. Then I put the Toy in reverse, low range pulling on the winch line and ground the entire rig down near the frame for the DEADMAN! technique. There was no way to budge the CONDOR! with wheel power. After a short driver's meeting it was agreed that the owner would not apply enough gas to make the tires spin, but help the effect of the Toyota Factory PTO winch, which, lucky for him could use all the gears in the transmission if needed to gain momentum. I thought we had a good chance of pulling him out as the tide was still coming in. Starting the winch in low gear, transfer case in neutral, I started slowly pulling him out. He was out of the hole as I was shifting the winch speed into 2nd and then 3rd gear getting some momentum happening. We were doing fine until he smelled success and completely lost it. Panic set in and he floored that huge gas engine whereby the winch hook luckily dropped off as he made a wide, 180 degree U-turn around me and was bounding and flailing north toward Pismo. I never saw him again. jefe