A 51-year-old man has been killed by a snapped recovery strap whilst he was assisting in recovering a bogged vehicle north of Mackay in Queensland, yesterday. At this time not a great deal is known, however the strap being used has broken, or the point it was attached to on the front of the bogged vehicle has snapped causing it to fly through the rear windscreen and hit the driver in the head.
Emergency services attempted to revive the man near the Gregory River, 150 kilometres north of Mackay, however he was declared deceased at the scene. Our sympathies and condolences are with his family and those involved with the incident.
The incident serves as a timely warning, both to ensure you’re using the appropriate equipment, and as safely as possible. Factory fitted points to the vast majority of 4X4’s are only to be used as tie down points whilst it is being towed on a trailer or tow truck, or to be flat towed with minimal resistance on the vehicle. Not while they have 40 tonnes of mud in front of them, and require eight tonnes of pulling power to get them out! They are neither rated to be used as recovery points, nor are they built to take the strain of being “snatched” out with a snatch strap.
Recovering a vehicle is an inherently risky and dangerous task, and regardless of what you do, you will never be able to fully remove all danger and risk from performing a recovery. The best that we can do is do it as safely as possible, and using rated recovery points (and rated high tensile bolts) attached directly to the chassis of the vehicle goes a long way to mitigating the risk involved.
“Winch Dampers” are another tool which we should all have access to (which aren’t even accurately named – “recovery damper” may have made more sense) – they too can and should be used on snatch and tow straps to minimise the kinetic energy of a broken strap (or winch rope), and anything steel attached to the end of it.
It seems that every year we hear in our community of 4x4er’s, someone suffers a serious injury or death whilst a recovery is being performed. Anyone who says “If they were using the right gear properly it would never have happened” is just wrong – you can never completely remove the risk and danger from a recovery. You can however, go a bloody long way to minimising it.
Do the right thing, be safe, and use all the tools you can to ensure you, your mates, and your family get home safe every time. And always be the first to offer a bit of advice to the younger generation out on the tracks that you see doing it the wrong way. Chances are they don’t know any better, and 5 minutes of your time, lending them your damper, and giving them some pointers on how to do it safely, might just save someone’s life.
Have you ever been in front of a snapped recovery strap? What could you have done differently, or did you do everything right to survive it? Make sure you stay tuned to Unsealed 4X4 as we’ll be doing an updated series on the best and safest way’s to recovery a 4X4, to minimise the risk involved.
If you want to learn more about snatch straps check out our extensive review and results in Unsealed 4X4