Moab Rim - Surviving a Roll Over

During Sunday's Moab Rim run, staff member John Nutter was the unfortunate victim of the law of gravity while traversing the lower section of the Z-Turn. John's wife Janet and their daughter Sierra were passengers when John's rig went over on its side. This is Janet's perspective from the passenger seat.

The Nutter's Jeep roll-over on Moab Rim Trail.
The Nutter's Jeep roll-over on Moab Rim Trail.

By: Janet Nutter

Moab Rim Roll Over - a Passenger's Perspective

I'm what you'd call a professional jeep passenger. I've never driven our Jeep... never will. However, I don't need to drive it to appreciate the wonderfulness of the jeeping experience. I love every minute of it.

I've gone a ton of places and done a ton of different stuff in our Jeep. We've wheeled from the Moab Easter Jeep Safari, to the Rubicon, to the wooded trails of Minnesota, to the rocky climbs in California. I've never, not once, felt that we were going to be rolling over. We've had the Jeep at all angles -- left, right, forward, backwards, on all terrain -- and never had that "here we go over" kind of feeling. Until Sunday.

I was as shocked as anyone when we were out for a short Welcome-to-Moab jaunt on the Moab Rim Trail. We were going through the Z-turn and I found myself thinking that there was no doubt we were way too far right of our center of gravity. Leaning... leaning... yep, there we were on our side. Wow! Hello rocks pressed right up against my previously perfect soft-top door window!

The immediate thing to do is to check on the safety of all passengers in the vehicle. Let your driver lead if he's in a good state of mind. Everyone was OK. Then John got out and made sure all vital liquids were staying in their proper places. After making sure we weren't in danger of rolling any further, I began the strategic business of getting my two-year-old and myself unbuckled and out of the Jeep. This is more difficult than it looks. If I were you, I'd take a few minutes (now, while you're not laying on your side) to think of the placement of your seat belt and what you can use as a ladder to get out. Luckily, my two-year-old was unfazed by the roll-over except that her fruit snacks were falling out of their bag. "Yes, honey, they'll do that when you're suspended dangling from your car seat." So I did have a few minutes to collect my thoughts before beginning. Also, let your friends think for you and just do what they tell you to do. Everyone wants to help and they are in a way better position to think for you.

I think that we had the perfect rolling situation -- if there is such a thing -- especially in Moab. There was no nearby cliff to plunge over, a lot of people to help with the recovery, minimal damage, and we were back in and continuing our trip after just a few minutes. Of course, the whole thing seemed to take hours.

So why is it then, two days of trailriding later, that I find myself awake at 2:00 AM thinking about it?

My relationship with the Jeep, for sure, has been permanently altered. My friend who's taken me through all sorts of situations is capable of rolling on its side. For the last two days every slightly off-camber situation has made me think that a repeat performance is inevitable.

What needs to happen next? I need to come to grips with the fact that rolling over is not that big of a deal, provided that you're not on a ledge and that you've made the proper safety precautions (rollbar, rollbar, rollbar!). Remember to "keep your feet and hands inside the ride at all times." Remember, of course, to wear your seat belts.

The other thing we all need to keep in mind is that if you do any quantity of 4-wheeling, rolling over is probably an eventuality for most of us. One unexpected little hole or rock at the wrong speed and over we go.

So how am I gonna get rid of, or at least minimize, the "pucker factor" every time we start to lean? I'm not exactly sure, but I'll let you know when I find the answer.