Friday, January 20, 2023

A Brush with Death on the way to Shotshow, 2023

Dark SUV (Mazda CX-9) stopped at stop light in Quartzsite, AZ, January 15, 2023

I had a close brush with death on the way to the Shot Show on Sunday. It was a dull day, overcast with a chance of pending rain, further north.

This correspondent was on his way to Las Vegas, Nevada, to cover the Shot Show on Sunday, January 15, 2023. I had gone to early service at my church, and was traveling North on state Highway 95, a mostly two lane road.  There are several passing lanes on the route between Yuma and Quartzsite, AZ.  That leg of the trip is about 85 miles. It is mostly open desert controlled by Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) and the KOFA Wildlife refuge. I had made the trip thousands of times as far as YPG and over a hundred times further north. 

It happened between milepost 99 and milepost 100, at just about noon.  A little earlier, the speed limit had dropped from 65 mph, to 55 mph. I had experienced a speed trap approaching Quartzsite years earlier, and did not wish to pay a fine of a couple hundred dollars. I dropped my speed from a bit under 70 to 57 mph. The big pickup with a loaded flat bed trailer behind me had to slow as well, but he crept up on me to about 80 feet, closer than I would like. 

Oncoming traffic was fairly busy, as is usual in January on Highway 95, with lots of big pickups hauling fifth wheel trailers, diesel pusher 40 foot RVs, and plenty of smaller vehicles heading south. Presumably they were snow birds coming down for the winter weather.

A big RV was approaching in the south bound lane, heading south. Most that I observed in the north bound lane were traveling at or slightly under the speed limit, probably to conserve fuel.

Suddenly, a flash to my left. A dark SUV is passing from behind, in the south bound lane, heading north, heading directly at the oncoming RV. The SUV is traveling close to a hundred mph. The RV has its lights on. I do not think it ever saw the dark SUV in time to react. The RV did not appear to brake or slow down.

I barely had time to lift my foot from the gas pedal as the right rear of the SUV crossed the centerline in front of me, at less than 30 feet. I did not have time to contemplate as the left front fender of the SUV crossed the centerline, no more than 50 feet from the oncoming RV, missing it by not more than a couple of feet.  The closing speed of the two vehicles was about 150 mph.

It was over. Start to finish, at most a second. The SUV driver probably never saw me, screened by the truck behind me. The RV driver probably never saw the SUV, a dark vehicle on a dark road on a dark day, coming from behind the truck with the trailer. The SUV may not have had its lights on. The driver may have counted on the RV to brake to let him in. It was a very close call. 

If the two had impacted, momentum could have carried the SUV away and out into the desert. I might have avoided impact with debris, and not been involved. More likely, it would have been a three vehicle pile-up.  The passenger cage protection in modern vehicles is very good. If everyone was buckled in, everyone might have survived. It is not the way to bet.

A few miles further on, at the stop light in Quartzsite, a dark Mazda CX-9 was in the lane left and one vehicle ahead of me. It looked like the SUV from milepost 99-100. Right color, right shape. I have blotted out part of the license plate. I could not testify in court it was the same. Over the miles, it could have turned off of 95, and another, similar car turned on to take its place. Not likely, but possible. If you look in the mirror of my vehicle, in the picture, you can see a dark vehicle on the dark road behind me. It illustrates the lack of contrast.

Man's life on this earth is short and full of troubles. I had plenty of time to consider mortality on the way to the Shot Show.  I have seen death near Highway 95.  Several years ago, I saw a young woman dying, bleeding out of her mouth and nose and ears from severe trauma in a single vehicle crash on the road to YPG. Others were already there, sirens coming on. Death is seldom pretty. There have been plenty of fatal crashes on AZ 95.

There has been much to see and do at the Shot Show, already. A report on Industry day at the ranch is coming soon.

©2023 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch


Chip Saunders said...

Snowbird traffic in Quartzite is notoriously deadly. Even more so than in Sun City.

ScienceABC123 said...

Stay safe Dean, and damn those idiot drivers.

ChrisB257 said...

Glad you are OK Dean - destiny - not meant to be your day to go thank heaven.