Local tow company donates recovery costs, retrieves vehicle involved in fatal crash from 260-foot ravine

ST. GEORGE — The vehicle that went off a cliff near state Route 59 in Hurricane last week,  resulting in the death of the driver, was pulled more than 260 feet from the bottom of the ravine Wednesday. The recovery operation was completed successfully at no charge to the family thanks to the efforts of a local tow company and its crew.

Tow operators rigging Geo Tracker to pull it to the top of the cliff during recovery operation off of state Route 59, Hurricane, Utah, April 29, 2020 | Photo by Ron Chaffin, St. George News

Hurricane Police Officer Ken Thompson told St. George News that Great West Towing and Recovery in St. George offered to recover the vehicle from the ravine at no cost, an operation that began at dawn Wednesday.

The Geo Tracker was located at the bottom of a ravine after a crash that killed the driver, who was in his early 80s. The SUV came to rest roughly 260 feet below the edge of the cliff.

Cameron Kent, Great West tow truck operator, told St. George News the location of the vehicle made for a complicated recovery operation that entailed adding extra feet of cable to reach the vehicle from the top where the wrecker was located.

Great West owner Lee Clarke was also on hand throughout the operation and ran the controls from the wrecker as two operators were lowered down the side of the cliff and then hiked into the deep ravine where the Tracker was located.

Once the cable was secured to the Tracker, the recovery process began, which took hours since the added cable had to be removed intermittently and then rerigged to prevent the SUV from falling back down into the ravine.

Luckily for the operators, Kent said, they had enough cable for the “dead drop,” the point in the operation when the SUV was no longer on the ground but was rather being pulled through the air alongside the cliff wall.

A Geo Tracker after it is pulled from the bottom of a 260-foot ravine during recovery operation off of state Route 59, Hurricane, Utah, April 29, 2020 | Photo by Ron Chaffin, St. George News

“We had about 400 feet of cable with us,” he said. “We always bring extra cable.”

Once the Tracker was pulled to the top, it was loaded onto a flatbed tow truck.

Hurricane Police officers were also on hand during Wednesday’s recovery operation. The recovery began at daybreak and was completed about four hours later.

Thompson said the successful outcome was due to the efforts of Great West Towing and its operators, both in the recovery aspect and for the family that did not have the means to cover the costs.

Tow operators live for complicated recoveries, Kent said, and this one “actually went much smoother than we thought it would.”

Kent added that a majority of recoveries are wrought with complications and unforeseen challenges.

He also said past experience has shown that recoveries like the one that took place Wednesday can also help provide closure for the family, in that it ties up a loose end “so they don’t have to worry about getting the vehicle out of there — it’s done.”

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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