Smoky Mountain Off-Road Emergency Experience - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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Smoky Mountain Off-Road Emergency Experience

I thought I'd share with you all an experience I had this weekend that kind of left me and my girlfriend a little shaken. You can refer to my intro elsewhere, but for those that don't know me, I'm Tim and I just picked up a 2008 Versys and we live in western North Carolina.

We live just outside of Smoky Mountain National Park, which is one of the reasons I wanted this bike. I just bought it/picked it up Friday. It rained ALL DAY on Saturday. I was able to squeeze in a ride in the neighborhood on Saturday night, but otherwise, by Sunday we were ready for a real ride. We took off Sunday for the park. It's a great place full of bikes and everyone should go there. Harrah's Cherokee Casino is there on the NC side and we had brunch before going into the park itself.

We rode around a while and visited various scenic areas. As stated, one of the reasons I wanted this "versatile" bike is because the park has a number of U.S. Forest Service gravel roads that run within the park itself. They're reasonably well-maintained, but because they're gravel, they see very little traffic except occasional off-roaders. I pulled off on one of these which was just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Well, the bike has stock tires and I was happy to find that even 2-up it was doing just fine on the loose gravel. We passed up two guys sitting stationary and drinking beer on their 4-wheelers on the side of the road. We got about a mile into the thick of the forest, at which time we pulled over to take some pictures. At that time one of the guys on a four-wheeler rode right past us. Soon as we got our helmets off, we heard a loud "thud". We looked over, and this guys buddy who was just a minute behind him had crashed. All we saw was a 4-wheeler sitting there idle. When we ran up to it, we saw that the guy was laying unconscious, bleeding, and completely pinned underneath the ATV. Beer cans were thrown everywhere. Needless to say these guys had been partying all day.

It took every bit of strength I had to lift that thing even a few inches whle my girlfriend tried to get him out from underneath. It was actually a "6-wheeler" as they had added an extension to it. We eventually got him out from underneath it, all the while this guys buddy was long gone and never knew his friend was behind him crashed. The guy wasn't wearing a helmet and was bleeding from his head, face, and all parts in between. And before anyone jumps in with how "you should never move a crash victim", let me clarify - he was beneath the 4-wheeler, literally crumpled up in ball, face in the ground, unconscious....potential paralysis from moving him was the least of his problems.

My girlfriend ran to our bike to grab the cell phone and GPS. She's trying to call 911, getting very spotty reception, and we're having a hell of a time trying to describe where we are. The GPS isn't getting a signal - we are literally in the middle of the forest. Meanwhile, this guys buddy had come back. Get this....the guy gets off of his 4-wheeler, barely glances at his "friend", and proceeds to worry more about picking up all the beer that his friend spilled when he crashed!!! After picking it up, barely answering any of our questions about how to get help there, he tells us he "has to go...he can't be talkin' to the cops". He drives off, leaving his friend literally dying in a pool of blood while we're playing "phone tag" with 911!

I decided that we have no choice but for me to head back to the main road to get better reception. I made it back to the road and even there the reception was only slightly better. I spoke the 911 operator long enough to give her the name of a nearby "scenic overlook" (as they call them on the Blue Ridge Parkway). I met the ambulance/cops there and showed them where the accident was. They got him out of there, now semi-conscious, and he was life-flighted out. His "friend" never showed back up.

So, while I thought I'd be able to brag to you all about how good the Versys is off-road, I instead have an entirely different story to tell. I have to say it's left me a little skiddish about traveling "off the beaten path". I did learn a few lessons....

1) Don't get piss drunk and ride around like a j**k a** in the middle of nowhere without a helmet like these guys did.
2) Always travel with someone you can trust to get help if you need it. No exaggeration - this guy would have been left for dead if his "friend" had been the only one there.
3) Always be able to succinctly describe where you are in case of an emergency and you have 4 seconds of cell phone coverage to say it.
4) Remember you never know who's around you, especially in the "back woods". I was honestly nervous about leaving my girlfriend with this guy while I went for help. This guy's "friend" had "wanted by the police" written all over him. Why else would he rather have his friend die than stay and help?
5) I will ALWAYS have a GPS hooked up and running from now on BEFORE I get on to these side roads. Mine was in the Givi case and not turned on. I've noticed here in the mountains that once the GPS locks on to a signal, it's good about keeping it, but if you're in the middle of nowhere before you even turn it on, it will not pick up a signal at all.
6) I may look into what other options are available for getting emergency help in these situations. I heard a while back that some manufacturer is making a "disposable" emergency satellite phone for hard-core campers/off-roaders that has GPS built in. I can only imagine how much that costs, though. Maybe if GPS were on my cell phone plan that would have worked better, but again, coverage was next to none out there anyway.

I guess the bottom line is that it taught me to think about the "what if" from now on. If anyone has any safety tips or suggestions as to how to prepare for such a situation (if you can), then I'm all ears and I think we could all benefit. I know this nerve-racking experience won't keep me from going off the main road...that's why I bought the Versys. But it sure has me thinking about things.

Tim
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 03:30 PM
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Wow, that guy was sure lucky you two were there to help him. Ive had my share of run ins with quad riders, not saying they are all bad but many do have a different mentality.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 03:58 PM
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Tim, you guys did a very admirable job. Glad you didn't freak out or run out and were able to help the guy. It'd be interesting to see what becomes of their "friendship"!

Ride To Live, Live To Ride....no, really!
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 05:05 PM
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Wow! What a way to break in the new bike! You get the good Merit medal as far as I'm concerned.
That guy is damn lucky you two were out there.

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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 05:10 PM
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What a terrible story, and what a rotten thing to do to someone, just leaving him there. Good for him you two were there to save his life.

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Originally Posted by timnc View Post
6) I may look into what other options are available for getting emergency help in these situations.
How about owning or renting a SPOT? (I'm not connected to this rental service, but I appreciate that it is offered.)




A SPOT is not quite a phone, but it is GPS powered, it can ask for help from pre-determined people ("help" button), or even straight to 911 ("911" button).

You can buy a SPOT device for $150 and pay $150 per year for tracking service, or rent a SPOT for $25 per week if you don't do boondocks-trips very often.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 05:51 PM
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This guy's "friend" had "wanted by the police" written all over him. Why else would he rather have his friend die than stay and help?
He left due to being drunk.

Had a similar experience during a poker run where a few guys were drinking at every stop. One of the newbie riders wiped out because he couldn't keep up with his "buddies". He grazed a telephone pole breaking the handlebar and shattering his wrist and ankle before hitting the ditch. All that was seen was a dust cloud ahead.

His buddies never came back to check on him because they were drunk and didn't want to get caught. Sheesh...

Lesson learned? I choose my riding friends wisely. No influence of any kind, period. Also know that we are there for each other till the end, whatever end that may be.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 07:27 PM
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Thatīs really a shocking experience

In the heat of things it was probably hard to remember, but that evading guy should have had his plate tagged, searched and arrested for evading help (donīt know if in the US that is a criminal offense, here in portugal it is)

Have you called afterwards to know about that guyīs recovery? yourīs was a good action all citizens should do, regardless

On a sidenote regarding the gps will always depend on how far you are from the last location you had your gps on, the tracking starts in circles at 9600baud of comms speed and it broadens up, thus taking time the farther it is from last known location, also donīt forget to keep it updated with gps fix files from the internet (if your allows it) because satellites eliptically move on earthīs orbit with a few angle degrees change from time to time and these file updates will have you gps fix the location faster
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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How about owning or renting a SPOT? (I'm not connected to this rental service, but I appreciate that it is offered.)
Yes, that's exactly the type of thing I'd be interested in getting. I did a quick search earlier today and all I found were phones costing thousands of dollars. If they are more reasonable as you mentioned, even if they can only be used "just in case of emergency", that would be fine. I live right by a number of these out-of-the-way forest roads. I hope to make these kinds of trips (minus the drama) regularly, so I'd probably want to buy one. Thanks for info!
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 07:34 PM
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Well done Tim and your girlfriend, Sound like you done the right thing moving him, if he is crumpled into ground face down he may not breath well as first rule of first aid is breathing. When you should resist moving someone pinned under a heavy object is when they have been there for a extended time as once you lift the weight they may die very fast with sudden release of deadly toxins but you heard it happen so you did a great job.

If i come over to ride in your neck of the woods, will very very safe riding with you. Once again well done and it is good to hear about people doing good things in a world of bad news and that was also very brave for you girlfriend to stay with that guy as not sure if I would of been to keen on leaving my wife there the way you explained those idiot's acted.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 07:39 PM Thread Starter
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In the heat of things it was probably hard to remember, but that evading guy should have had his plate tagged, searched and arrested for evading help (donīt know if in the US that is a criminal offense, here in portugal it is)
I guess I didn't mention that as we were giving details to the Cherokee (adjacent city) police, they asked for his description, and they said they "knew who he was". Sadder still is after they said they knew him, they said he lived just 10 minutes up the road - close enough to where he could have gone home and called for help himself...but didn't.
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 07:49 PM
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You must have been in the Natahala National Forest (Dept of Ag, US Forest Service), yeah? Glad you and your GF are a-ok. Maybe the victim will recover and then go kick the stuffing out of his "friend". Karma, it's a b*tch.

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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 08:06 PM
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When I started reading I expected a totaly different outcome. I was afraid it was you guys that had the emergancy. Great job for stepping up and doing what was needed!

I one time witnesses a bike crash and it gets your heart pumping for sure. A husband and wife were riding along a few car lengths in front of us. We were in my truck. The wife was following pretty close on her own bike. A deer ran across the road and the husband laid his bike over, didn't hit the deer. I think he just freaked. While he was sliding on the road the wife drove over him and his bike before she crashed. They were both beat up pretty bad. We had good cell coverage, so help was quickly on it's way.

Things happen quickly, be prepared!
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 08:16 PM
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Hey tim I applaud your actions Nice to know there are still valiant people out there.
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 10:02 PM
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Tim, it's people like you and your girlfriend that let us all know that there is still good in people today!! What the two of you did was awesome!! I could only only hope that if an accident ever fell on myself or any of you fellow forum members that someone like Tim would be around
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 10:11 PM
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great job!... A suggestion would be to carry a first aid kit with you on your travels... i always carry one with me and have had to use it. You can buy ready made setups but i prefer to make my own... again..job well done
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post #16 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 10:24 PM
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Which thread was it that was wondering which handguns fit under the seat? That seems like required gear on those roads...
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post #17 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 10:34 PM
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Quote:
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Which thread was it that was wondering which handguns fit under the seat? That seems like required gear on those roads...
makes sense if you hear banjos, on a more serious note when my wife and myself go on a road trip we cart a small first aid kit
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post #18 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 10:39 PM
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It was a nice thing you did. But the sad thing about it is you probably would have saved more people in the future if you would have just left him for dead. Next time you meet him he'll probably be blind drunk in his raised 4x4 with no insurance out on bail for his 3rd DUI and run over the two of you and not even notice it.

Last edited by weljo2001; 08-23-2010 at 10:49 PM.
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post #19 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 11:21 PM
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Ya done good!

I'd be proud to ride with you any time.

As far as the Spot is concerned. If you look for the original Spot 1 you can actually find them for under $50.00 sometimes.

It is something I do not leave home (on a scooter) without. As well as a ver small First Aid Kit.

Ride em if ya got em!
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post #20 of 26 (permalink) Old 08-23-2010, 11:34 PM
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Timnc.

Thank you and your GF for saving a precious life.
God bless both of you.

When riding I always have the GPS/phone full charged and a first aid kit.
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