Man killed as towing strap snaps and hits him in head

Published: March 19, 2018
Snatch strap death

A man has been killed after a towing strap snapped and hit in him in the head while he was trying to help a bogged driver in central Queensland.

Initial reports suggest the 51-year-old from Strathdickie was towing another vehicle out of a mud bank when the tow strap snapped before smashing through the back window and hitting him in the head.

The tragedy occurred on Saturday near the Gregory River at the Billy Creek Boat Ramp, around 150km north of Mackay.

Witnesses performed CPR until emergency services arrived but the man was declared dead at the scene.

In June last year, 26-year-old Chris Poulsen died in similar circumstances at Farnborough Beach near Yeppoon in Queensland.

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4 years ago

Surely it could not have been the tow strap snapping, as it would lose all force. Perhaps the strap and the steel end came away from the towed vehicle and flew back into the towing car driver’s rear window.

Ronald Webster
4 years ago
Reply to  Brian

Having used snatch straps many times and seen then break they just loose all power and fall to the ground but the use of unrated d shackes or hooking the strap around the towball then it becomes a powerful missile

r smith
4 years ago

Many years ago when you bought a 4wd some companies offered courses on offroad handling, including the use of snatch em, or recovery straps. We were taught the importance of laying a heavy towel or hessian bag over the strap prior to the pull to minimise this very risk.

4 years ago

I agree with R Smith I have seen on the 4WD shows that you never see anyone put something on the straps. They should mention it every time they use it. So it would make people think about it as it is a safety procedures

Gwenda Cahill
4 years ago

A very sad time for the families and sometimes we get a chance to survive to learn lessons.

I concur about placing a dampener on the snap strap and I was also taught this important information on my 4X4 driving course when I purchased my Toyota 4be. Not sure if it is mandatory to take a course, but it should be when purchasing a snap strap, or at the very least be shown the dangers and how to avoid getting hit by one, for everyone involved enem the spectators.

Plus I was advised by my instructor to NEVER USE anyone else’s snap strap if your the person towing.(You know the condition of your own gear)

Also the life span on using a a ‘snap strap’ is very limited due to the elasticity pressure applied, wet weather and age of the snap strap. Gwynnie ( for those who are new at 4X4 driving- I highly recommend taking a short course, it is well worth the money)

Kerry C
4 years ago

So sorry for everyone involved.

We did a 4wd course with the Toyota Landcruiser Club and they really stressed the importance of using a dampener to stop exactly this from happening.

4 years ago

Perhaps its time the body reponsible stepped in and banned the sale of these straps without a dampening attachment thats attached ?
The one I bought has just a loop at each end. And if you were going to use a shackle it would have to be quiet large and heavy, and how many people would have the correct size ?
In the good old days you would use a rope or a chain and have to use great care not to put sudden tension on them ,because they would break . Where as the Snatch strap seems to be the opposite.
You only need to watch You Tube to see how many are breaking out there.

Paul C.
4 years ago

Indeed very sad for those involved.
In reply to comments – snatch straps do have a huge amout of kinetic energy stored when they break and the application of a suitable damper will control this energy, even if there is a shackle attached to the eye – that being the case, the attach point on the vehicle would have to fail to take the shackle with the strap. The heavier the damper the better i.e. sleeping bag , wet towel, blanket, floor mat, etc.
It is not mandatory to do a recovery course to purchase a strap, and the same, for example to purchase a chain saw- both can prove to be very dangerous in untrained hands.
Straps do not have limited life spans, what limits their life span is how they are used or abused- I have some that are 25+ years old and still going strong. They should be checked before each use and cleaned of dirt or sand after each use.
Snatch straps are generally made with 20% stretch built into the nylon webbing and are rated to a capacity in kilograms, eg: 4000kg, 6000 kg-
I have one rated to 10,000 kg, a monster used on trucks or tractors.
John, one problem with permanently attaching a damper would be that it may not be in the best location on the strap- many times I have had to place the damper closer to the bogged vehicle for various reasons. When on a 4×4 trip there are plenty of things in the vehicle that can be used as a damper.
My qualifications to comment: 40+ years of 4 wheel driving for work and recreation, 20+ years working in the industry, design and teach 4×4 recovery courses for Tafe and Government Depts, and back in the 90’s involved with scientific test of straps with University of Technology engineers to test straps, anchor points and stresses placed on vehicles during a recovery- broke the load cell, and obtained information on stresses at various points on the chassis.
There are 3 things that need to be done to ensure these type of incidents dont occur, training, training, and training.
See you on the road and keep it safe.
Happy to discuss any aspects of vehicle recovery over a dozen beers!
Happily retired now and driving around the country in Landcruiser and BT.


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