Jeeps and water don't always mix

Whaler27

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There but for the grace of God go I...

In 1978, when I was younger (and even dumber), I was running across the desert south of Flagstaff Arizona in my first jeep, a 1977 CJ7. My buddy and I had the world by the tail. We also had half a case of beer we were too young to drink legally.

It was the perfect afternoon, ripping along dirt roads and trails, drifting sideways, and doing my best to show off and act cool. Then our dirt road came to a creek that was only about 50 to 60 feet wide. Our dirt road turned into a ribbed concrete section that headed into the creek and out the other side. It was obviously intended to carry our road through the creek. It didn't occur to us that the road might be impassable during some seasons.

The only place we couldn't see the bottom was a narrow strip right in the middle of the creek, and that was only about 15 feet across. The creek didn't seem to be moving very fast, so we figured we were good to go. After all, we were in a JEEP! 🤔 So I backed up, got a run at it, and hit the water at about 25 mph.

The initial wave surged over the hood and slapped the windshield HARD. The deceleration threw us both forward against our seatbelts. It was MUCH more water than we had expected to see. By the time the wipers swiped once or twice we could feel the jeep rocking from side to side. We could also feel the tires slipping with only intermittent traction.

As it turns out, the reason we couldn't see the bottom in the middle of the creek is because the water was too deep. Go figure.

We could feel the jeep floating and swinging with the current. The rear end was being carried downstream faster than the front, so we were getting sideways to the road bed. By the time the rear had rotated about 45 degrees we could feel the front tires starting to recover traction, because the jeep was still sinking. We were still losing ground for a couple seconds as the jeep continued to swing sideways as it settled. Fortunately, by the grace of God, the jeep settled enough to get decent front traction before the front end had drifted all the way off of the concrete road bed. By that time we were about 80% of the way across the creek, and my jeep was facing more upstream than across the creek.

Fortunately, the jeep didn't fully flood or stall. The front tires eventually recovered enough traction to bring the left rear tire in contact with the edge of the road bed where it started to bite. We hopped a couple times and then lurched forward. The right rear tire had been well off the road bed and significantly deeper, but the other three tires pulled us back in line with the road and into shallower water until the last tire hit the edge of the roadbed and recovered traction. We drove out of the water with our balls in our throats and a cloud of steam billowing from under the hood.

We didn't realize that an inch or more of water was covering the floorboard until we were clear of the creek.

If that creek had been 6" deeper I would have lost the jeep. Or worse.

In a life filled with stupid antics and near-misses, this one makes my top twenty. That's saying a lot.

I don't remember how we found our way out of the wilderness that day, as the only blacktop we knew about was on the other side of the creek, and we definitely weren't going to try another water crossing. (For you youngsters, this was long before cell phones were affordable, so we had nothing but a CB radio and maps.)

As the saying goes, it's a good thing God loves fools and drunks too... :like:
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Timmyjoe

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Wonder how it got in there? And I'd never want that tow truck driver to try and rescue my Jeep. Sure looks like he didn't use divers to hook onto the vehicle. If he had, it would have come out easily. Looks like he just had someone throw the sling thru the open windows.

Best,
-Tim
 

WagzDad

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I used to live up the street from a steep boat launch outside of Jackson, ms. The water was 15’ off the end of the concrete. Every year someone would knock on the door to call for help. Almost every time the vehicle was a manual that they left in gear without the parking brake assuming it would hold. The recoveries s when the boat was still strapped to the trailer were always interesting to see.
 

Sontavaman

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Those doors ,are lot tough than I thought. I assumed the strap would have crushed the window arches into the roll bar
 

mwilk012

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Wonder how it got in there? And I'd never want that tow truck driver to try and rescue my Jeep. Sure looks like he didn't use divers to hook onto the vehicle. If he had, it would have come out easily. Looks like he just had someone throw the sling thru the open windows.

Best,
-Tim
That’s not a rescue. That’s a trash cleanup.
 
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