Caravanning couple recall nightmare rollover ordeal

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caravan crash in Elliott
The car and caravan were destroyed in the crash. PIC: Supplied / NT News

A couple who had a miracle escape from an horrific caravan accident in the Northern Territory have spoken of their ordeal.

Jenni and Dave were driving north of Elliott on March 26 when their car hit a dip in the road and their caravan became unhitched, causing them to career out of control.

The pair, who preferred not to give their surnames, told the NT News that they were lucky to walk away with scratches and bruises after they rolled down an embankment.

“We were heading north and it took seven seconds from the time the caravan unhinged to crossing over the other side of the road, rolling the caravan and car and ending up facing south,” said Jenni.

The NT News reports that seconds after the caravan unhinged, Dave, a former paramedic, harnessed his driving skills to try regain control.

“Survival mode kicked in,” he told the paper. “The van was starting to swerve so I knew it was going to roll … I didn’t want it to roll on the highway so I controlled it as best I could and we went down the embankment.”

Dave said that when they stopped, his biggest concern was Jenni’s welfare.

“She appeared to be okay which was the biggest relief,” he said. “It was very surreal, it happened in seconds.”

Their car and caravan were crushed, but the couple managed to crawl out from the wreckage when people in another caravan stopped and assisted them.

The couple, who are now staying in Daly Waters while arranging their next plans, are urging travellers to be careful when driving on remote roads, particularly north of Elliott.

“To get out of that with just bruising and no severe injuries, if it were a motorcyclist they’d be dead,” Jenni told the NT News. “To come out of it how we have, so many things could have gone wrong.”

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31 Responses to Caravanning couple recall nightmare rollover ordeal

  1. Coming “unhinged” I’m assuming that the caravan parted company with the tow vehicle at the hitch.. Is this correct?

    • Does it really matter – just be sure you hitch up properly

    • I think what has happened is when they hit the dip the hitch came off the tow ball and most likely because the looking clip didn’t have a clip or lock thru to prevent this happening ,it’s very common on boat trailers when launching and retriving the looking bracket sprnings loose and then the ball pops out

  2. I’m so pleased that they are ok.

  3. Thank you for sharing your horrific story , so glad you got through with only minor injuries…
    Someone above was watching down on you both…
    Hope you get things sorted and continue to travel our beautiful country.
    Take care both of you ❤>¡<

  4. who did it become unhitched. Was it hitched correctly in the first place ?
    Would like to know so to how to check mine

    • Feel very sorry for this couples Loss, glad they are OK. But it would be good to know why the Caravan came unhitched as a learning for all in the future.

  5. RE; Roz & Tony’s comment about “something above”, to paraphrase Kerry Packer, there’s nothing ‘there’. Get over it and slow down.

    • That’s your opinion , everyone’s entitled to one, move on, just thankful that they are ok.

  6. Glad everyone was not hurt seriously in any way.
    Unhinged ?? or unhitched, was this a typo if not explain what unhinged means, does this mean the equipment was nor in a serviceable condition, loose coupling/bolts chains etc.
    did breakaway if fitted work properly ?? A lot more needs to be reported if the rest of us are to learn anything that would result in safer travel.
    Just reporting on the accident without any thing technical is not a lesson for the people who need to be more vigilant about their equipment.

    • Does it really matter just be sure you double check your hitch OX before moving off !!!

      • Of course you need to double check that’s a given!!! BUT I do believe there should be more information as could be other issues, faulty chains cheap steel used for couplings etc…. we can’t presume that it’s always driver error if they we not so luck there would of be a Thorough investigation and we may have found out if there were faulty products involved!
        Safety should always be a priority not blame

  7. You are reading a newspaper report, not a police or insurance report by a competent person. It is rare to get all the relevant facts in a quick news report no matter how important it is to all of us to learn how to avoid such a disaster.

  8. Unhitched? Did the hitch snap? Very strange. I had a tow ball snap off once towing a trailer at around 80kmh. That was interesting, but manageable…just. The crossed chains did their job that day. Very lucky couple, they will save a bit of money on Lotto since they have used up all of that luck.

  9. Yes, it has made me a nervous and would like to know what went wrong so can make any adjustments if needed. Thanks

    • Sally common sense sets the bar here – just do yourself a favour just worry about making sure your hitch is connected correctly !!!

      • Stop chastising relevant questions, be helpful to know what went wrong!

  10. Glad your both OK. I agree with others more detail re the hitch etc would help but either way its another reminder to check, check and double check. We MUST view our rigs as if we were the pilot of a passenger plane.NOT just a sunday car driver.

  11. This is not the place to air your obviously athiestic comments. Keep them to yourself and show a bit of compassion for these people.

  12. Looks like the boat was properlly secured anyway , glad no body was seriously injured

  13. For all those here that gave spoken so negatively about “who hitched- how did the Dutch come loose” get a bloody life – how does it go – “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”

    You can tell all the would be know-it-all’s making comments here just shut the hell up !!

    • I don’t get your level of agro, directed at people concerned about this happening to them, if indeed there is something they should be doing extra to avoid such a calamity. Reading between the lines of your responses, I can only presume that there was some oversight to hitching up in the first place.

    • When I read the opening to this story I knew there would be people who would focus and question the ‘unhinched’ reference….and I was right in seeing the comments.
      But let’s cast aside the know it all’s who think the couple didn’t hitch up correctly. But let’s assume half of these comments are questioning ‘what happened?!’ And ‘could it happen to our rig?’
      It natural to want to know what went wrong on the road dip and to double check their own safety measures to make sure the same doesn’t happen to them.
      I surely want to know the details so I can double check if I’m towing correctly. I’m not bashing the poor people who suffered this. I’m seeking answers to avoid it happening again.
      Thanks for listening.

  14. My wife & I am so glad you’re both ok. It is a frightening experience. We know as we lost both our van & Ranger several years ago when the trailer plug worked it’s way loose, and upon touching the brake caused the van to develop an uncontrollable sway eventually causing the whole lot to jackknife and roll the car and flat packing the van. We were very lucky also to walk away. Later tests proved that both van brakes & the car braking were working in working condition at the time with the result being determined that the connection between the two had failed.

    • We had a similar problem. Overtaken by a cab-over semi on a straight highway in a high wind area. The ESC did not kick in. Lost car and van thru no fault of my own..

  15. I’m with u Peter

  16. That was horrifying, and I’m pleased you came out of it relatively OK. Having got to owning a Motorhome via three caravans and a Fifth-Wheeler, maybe it’s a good example of the advantages of a Motorhome as RV?

  17. This is a questions or comments section so people are permitted to ask questions. And asking questions is far better than making assumptions.
    But nevertheless some assumptions can be permitted. We assume that the caravan was correctly hitched otherwise it would have been mentioned in the original article. And we assume that the safety chains remained attached just by looking at the photo. And we assume that the hitch was a 50mm ball hitch.
    And that 50mm ball hitch is ok for your 6 by 4 trailer but in my opinion undersized for a 2ton plus caravan.
    Especially when when coupled to modern tow bars with the ball attached to the car by an iron tube inserted into another iron tube and held in place by a pin.
    There are other better hitch options.

  18. We were lucky when we picked up our new van at Campbellfield Vic to take home to Frankston Vic to discover than the van was not locked on to the tow vehicle. We were never shown how to use it.

    • So your experience, should it have escalated, would probably have been reported as a caravan becoming unhitched.
      By recounting your experience factually we are now all well informed as to how such an incident might be avoided.
      Thank you.
      Whereas, some readers here prefer to focus on some lucky avoidance of bodily injury, that does nothing to inform our towing fraternity of possible hitching pitfalls to watch out for.

  19. Just a penny for thought, was the ball weight correct?

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