40 vehicles crash at Grand Canyon

An estimated 40 vehicles were involved in a pile-up of collisions at Grand Canyon National Park on Dec. 29, including a van that slid over the edge of the canyon, according to a news release from the National Park Service.

Wintry road/Ryn Gargulinski

Wintry road/Ryn Gargulinski

Nobody died. Not in the van or any other of the smashups.

The van, which contained five passengers and one driver, was found over the edge of the canyon at Navajo Point, located between Buggeln Hill and Desert View.

Rather than tumbling to the canyon’s depths, the van had slid over the edge and rolled over to a stop about 25 feet below the rim.

All occupants had gotten out of the van before emergency crews arrived and only minor injuries were reported. The release did not note if any of those injuries were to the vocal cords from screaming.

Minor injuries were also the only result of the other 40 or so vehicles that collided around 5 p.m. in the area of Buggeln Hill on Desert View Drive, also known as the East Rim Drive.

The collisions occurred from a combination of light snow falling on wet roads and freezing evening temperatures.

“Those planning to visit the Grand Canyon area should be aware that winter driving conditions are expected to persist in the park as periodic snow storms are followed by daytime melting and nighttime freezing,” the release said. “Park visitors are encouraged to tune their radios to AM 1610 where they can hear recommendations for driving in winter conditions.”

Although Tucson is not known for its icy and snowy road conditions – just its crummy drivers – other areas around Arizona can truly be hazardous.

Before hitting a potentially hazardous road, check out some winter driving tips from the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Prepare for the storm— have a full tank of gas, warm clothes, chains or snow cables, food and water, cell phone, know the weather conditions to and from your destination and make sure you plan ahead for winter driving conditions. Get plenty of rest before your trip and give yourself extra time to get to your destination. Make sure you let someone know where you’re going, what route you will be taking and when you expect to arrive.

Icy highway/Ryn Gargulinski

Icy highway/Ryn Gargulinski

* Take your time and be patient.
* Always brake slowly and avoid panic braking.
* Always accelerate slowly to get the best traction.
* Do not turn abruptly, turn slowly and gradually.
* Increase the distance between you and traffic ahead, allow yourself plenty of time to break and steer around upcoming hazards.
* Ice forms on bridges first.
* Black ice is hard to see, it forms with very little moisture during freezing temperatures.
* When stopped on the roadway, keep to the right to allow emergency vehicles to get around you.
* Beware of shaded areas on the roadway, ice may be present.
* Do not follow too closely behind snow plows.
* If you are in an accident, become stuck or are just taking a break, do not get out of your vehicle and stand in the roadway. Sliding vehicles are hard to hear on ice and snow and you increase your risk of being hit. Watch traffic, stay out of and away from the roadway and do not become complacent—stay alert to your surroundings.
* Arizona Department of Transportation website contains road condition info at http://www.az511.com.
* ADOT or DPS will assist you as soon as possible.

Please also heed a very important warning, issued earlier this month during flurries:

“DPS urges caution to those traveling north and advises motorists should not stop along the highway to play in the snow.”

Just in case you were wondering, it may also not be a very good idea to hurl ice chunks at windshields from an overpass, build a snowman on an off ramp or lie down to make a snow angel in the middle of the highway.



Not the time to speed/Ryn Gargulinski

Not the time to speed/Ryn Gargulinski

What do you think?

Have you ever been in a winter collision? What happened?

What’s the dumbest thing you’ve seen someone do while driving in ice or snow?

Do you freak out if you have to drive in snow, rain or wind?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
This entry was posted in danger, environment, life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to 40 vehicles crash at Grand Canyon

  1. Jennatoolz says:

    “The release did not note if any of those injuries were to the vocal cords from screaming.” Hahaha, that made me chuckle.

    Heya Ryn!! Great tips on driving in the snow! I recently watched a show where a guy got caught in a bad snow storm. His jeep got stuck, and he couldn’t get it to move. It also happened to be in an area where there was little to no traffic. Long story short, he ended up being buried by the snow, but managed to barely survive something like 8 days without much food and water. Snow is so beautiful, yet sometimes can be so deadly.

    • Rynski says:

      hey jenna,
      glad you caught my lil joke…i would have been screaming my head off if the van i was in decided to go sliding off the canyon edge!
      yes, snow can surely be a killer. wow on the jeep guy who survived – at least he could have drank melted snow (as long as it wasn’t yellow) so he would not dehydrate.
      after growing up in mich and then living for 100 years in new york, i’m not a big fan of snow. at least i never had the thrill of buffalo, ny. i still remember soggy socks, hands frozen like claws and the nyc snow turning black, yellow and red all over the streets. slush to all of it!

  2. Rynski says:

    Just added poll to post – big fun in the snow.

  3. radmax says:

    * Do not turn abruptly, turn slowly and gradually…not always good advice when you have a hairpin turn and a thousand foot drop-off, or a semi hoggin’ a lane and a half. I love ADOT and others driving tips. The best advice when driving in severe conditions is DON’T. Check the road conditions before embarking. If you don’t have the right equipment, don’t go! A little common sense can go a long way in these situations. Glad to hear nobody took the big plunge this time. Mornin’ Rynona? 🙂

    • Rynski says:

      mornin’ rabidmax!
      i agree – crashes can surely be avoided if folks know their limits when it comes to driving in hazardous conditions.
      i would HOPE! someone would know not to turn slowly and gradually if they are on the precipice of a cliff – haha. but then again, you never know. a movie i watched the other day had a guy stalled in his car in the middle of a highway and what did he do? he did not immediately try to start the car. he did not get out of the car to move to safety. he spent several minutes rootin’ around on the floor for the cell phone he dropped.
      big surprise – a semi came along, jackknifed, and decapitated him before it all went up in flames.
      have a nice day.

  4. Ferraribubba says:

    My most fun memory with snow? That’s easy. The warm, sunny January afternoon I spent by the pool in Palm Springs with my girlfriend. Watching some snowbound Super Bowl on TV while sipping cold salty dogs and deciding where to dine for dinner. Ach, the good life. Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba 

    • Rynski says:

      ha! while i have enjoyed a good ride on the toboggan, i’d have to say the palm springs pool sounds much more enticing (if you skip the football – haha).

  5. azmouse says:

    I’m glad nobody was seriously hurt, but they all could have probably used an adult diaper as they were heading of the side.

    My fondest snow memory has to be when I was fifteen and I ran away from home. I couldn’t drive yet, so my boyfriend picked me up and with no plan of where to go, we headed up Mt. Lemmon and fell asleep in his car. When we woke up, I panicked because I couldn’t see out the windows. Well, the one time I run away to Mt. Lemmon, they had a freak, once in a life time blizzard up there! I had on a light sweater and flipflops and my boyfriend was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Luckily, he had a jacket in his trunk, so I gave him my sweater and just wore his jacket, without a shirt on.
    To make a long story short, a guy who was blowing snow off the road actually saw where we wrote ‘help’ in the snow by the road, and sent the Mt. Lemmon fire department to rescue us. When we got to the fire station, there were news crews every where from every channel because of this fluke blizzard!
    Me and the boyfriend were on the news that night, him in my girly sweater and me in his jacket with no shirt underneath and black mascara under my eyes, and wet hair. To top it off, they started filming us as I was taking some fire fighter’s lunch off his desk to eat it, because we were starving!
    Yep, a runaway lunch thief on the evening news…Mom and Dad were so proud….

    • Rynski says:

      hahahha! i LOVE your snow story, AZMouse. that is the greatest!
      esp. like the girly sweater and stolen lunch details.
      you also had me laughing with the adult diaper. hahaha.

      • azmouse says:

        Can’t soon forget something that is in the Tucson News archives and on tape. One of my friends had a big party that night…you know what the whole high school was watching at her party, which I couldn’t go to cuz I was grounded. lol

      • Rynski says:

        wow – the story just keeps on getting deeper – it’s a whole SNOW SAGA! hahhhahahahhaha

  6. Ferraribubba says:

    Hey Rynski: The snow in the football game qualified it as a snow story, get it?  But if you want a real snow story . . . my late son, Willi Dieter and I summitted Mt. Whitney (14,498 ft.) in middle August, 1973, starting at Whitney Portals, (8,300 ft.) We used the Mountaineers Route, a class 2 climb with a short class 3 pitch and made it up to 13,100 ft. the 1st day. By 11 am, the 2nd day, we summitted, wearing only shorts, tee shirts, climbing boots, and small nylon assault packs. What started out as a beautiful bright sunny day at 5;30 in the morning had turned into a violent Sierra electrical/snow storm by the time that we hit the top. BTW, that was our first experience with St. Elmo’s Fire. Every hair on our bodies stood straight out and we had a bright irredescent glow all around us. I’ve heard that you have about 5 seconds at that time before the lightning bolt hits. Scared? I only wish that I’d been wearing my Depends that morning! We  both dropped to the ground, not even bothering to sign the register and crawled halfway down the mountain
    on our hands and knees, finally reaching the Portals and our campsite that evening.  There are more people killed in the Sierras by lightning each year than by all other accidents combined.
    The mountain didn’t get me that time, but when I check out of here, my ashes will be scattered on her, so she will eventually have me for aprox. 5 billion years, if you believe Dr. Stephen Hawking and his quantum mechanics therory. <g>
    Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

  7. Wow. I can’t image a vehicle going over the rim and not having at least one fatality. I guess that’s one extra Christmas er… Holiday gift for 2009 🙂

  8. I would love to see a picture with the van over the edge just to see how it could happen.  The story was widely reported but no pics from the scene 😦  I know that people die every year from falling into the canyon, first time I ever heard of a vehicle going over.

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