Russell’s road crash

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By Russell Hughes

In October last year I blew a tyre in my trusty Hilux surf fully loaded, I have had the vehicle for five years and those who know me know I loved that archaic 90’s SUV. The accident really shook me and I thought to share this incident with everyone and hopefully prevent any unnecessary harm coming to others.

The accident. What happened?

Transporting multiple twins, stages, deco bottles and weights I headed for a fill. The zone was 100kmh and the clock read 80. On an uphill corner with a downhill camber I felt the back come loose… Going to habit I relaxed the pedals and hoped the truck would regain traction after the initial loss. It didn’t.

The vehicle fish tailed wildly until it caught an edge, flipped and as I lost consciousness, started to roll…

I remember waking up with the truck still in drive, a head full of smashed glass, the doors jammed, in the middle of nowhere.

After kicking my way out my first response was to make sure the scene was clear and no other motorists would be harmed by the wreck. I looked through the blown out windows of my truck to see a lack of gear. It had been ejected through the windows and was now hissing and bent down the bank!

Not great eh.

Question: How many domestic divers travel with a lot of dive kit and cylinders?

I have been here a while now and have seen how we all transport kit. Often in SUV, sedan or any arrangement apart from a ute where the payload is separated from the cab. This being said I don’t advocate going out and buying a ute just to transport your gear!

Russell with much loved Hilux and gear

The reality is we all move around with single or multiple compressed cylinders in the back. You are lying if you say you always stow them properly!

Answer: What I can do

Take 10 minutes. Pack properly and if you do not have the luxury of partitioning the vehicle then tie stuff down. After consulting fire services, Ambos and Police, the reality is LOOSE GEAR KILLS PEOPLE.

I am lucky to have rolled sideways. Going end over end would have seen 100kg + of gear meet little resistance… scary thought I reckon.

Possible solutions

Whenever possible we can rent tanks where at the locations we travel to. Many of our favourite facilities can provide rental cylinders for diving guests. Within the GUE community here we run a club so anyone diving out of Tutukaka can access tanks & fills by pre booking!

Tie downs like these can prevent a lot of harm

Plan your trip and have a dedicated support vehicle. It takes longer but… There will no panic packing and the start of the error chain!

Reflection

I am a lucky man today. No one else was hurt. I sustained minor injuries. And I can learn from my mistakes. I wish you all safe diving, and the driving to get there! Please think about how you travel, At the end of the day it is just a hobby!

“We are all guilty of normalizing our ventures beyond established limits”

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