A Brush with Death on the Way to Firearms Industry Shot Show, 2023

A dark SUV (Mazda CX-9) stopped at a stop light in Quartzsite, AZ, on January 15, 2023

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)-— I had a close brush with death on the way to the Shot Show on Sunday. It was a dull day, overcast with a chance of pending rain.

This correspondent was on his way to Las Vegas, Nevada, to cover the Shot Show on Sunday, January 15, 2023. I had gone to early service at my church and was traveling North on State Highway 95, a mostly two-lane road.  There are several passing lanes on the route between Yuma and Quartzsite, AZ.  That leg of the trip is about 85 miles. It is mostly an open desert controlled by Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) and the KOFA Wildlife refuge. I had made the trip thousands of times as far as YPG and over a hundred times further north.

It happened between milepost 99 and milepost 100 at just about noon.  A little earlier, the speed limit had dropped from 65 mph to 55 mph. I had experienced a speed trap approaching Quartzsite years earlier and did not wish to pay a fine of a couple of hundred dollars. I dropped my speed from a bit under 70 to 57 mph. The big pickup with a loaded flatbed trailer behind me had to slow as well, but he crept up on me to about 80 feet, closer than I would like.

Oncoming traffic was fairly busy, as is usual in January on Highway 95, with lots of big pickups hauling fifth-wheel trailers, diesel pusher 40-foot RVs, and plenty of smaller vehicles heading south. Presumably, they were snowbirds coming down for the winter weather.

A big RV was approaching in the southbound lane, heading south. Most that I observed in the northbound lane were traveling at or slightly under the speed limit, probably to conserve fuel.

Suddenly, a flash to my left. A dark SUV is passing me from behind in the southbound lane, heading north, and heading directly at the oncoming RV.

The SUV is traveling close to a hundred mph. The RV has its lights on. I do not think the RV driver saw the dark SUV in time to react. The RV did not appear to brake or slow down.

I barely had time to lift my foot from the gas pedal as the right rear of the SUV crossed the centerline in front of me at less than 30 feet. I did not have time to contemplate as the left front fender of the SUV crossed the centerline, no more than 50 feet from the oncoming RV, missing it by not more than a couple of feet.  The closing speed of the two vehicles was about 150 mph.

It was over. Start to finish, at most a second. The SUV driver probably never saw me, screened by the truck behind me. The RV driver probably never saw the SUV, a dark vehicle on a dark road on a dark day, coming from behind the truck with the trailer. The SUV may not have had its lights on. The driver may have counted on the RV to brake to let him in. It was a very close call.

If the two had impacted, momentum could have carried the SUV away and out into the desert. I might have avoided impact with debris and not been involved. More likely, it would have been a three-vehicle pile-up.  The passenger cage protection in modern vehicles is very good. If everyone had been buckled in, everyone might have survived. It is not the way to bet.

A few miles later, at the stop light in Quartzsite, a dark Mazda CX-9 was in the lane left, with one vehicle ahead of me. It looked like the SUV from milepost 99-100. Right color, right shape. I have blotted out part of the license plate. I could not testify in court it was the same. Over the few miles to Quartzsite, it could have turned off of 95, and another similar car turned on to take its place. Not likely, but possible. Not many places to turn off. If you look in the mirror of my vehicle in the picture, you can see a dark vehicle on the dark road behind me. It illustrates the lack of contrast.

Man’s life on this earth is short and full of troubles. I had plenty of time to consider mortality on the way to the Shot Show.  I have seen death near Highway 95.  Several years ago, I saw a young woman dying, bleeding out of her mouth, nose, and ears from severe trauma in a single-vehicle crash on the road to YPG. Others were already there, sirens coming on. Death is seldom pretty. There have been plenty of fatal crashes on AZ 95.

There has been much to see and do at the Shot Show already. A report on Industry day at the ranch is coming soon.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten

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mlhtd51

Dean, Get A Dash Cam, one that records Front and Back. I Speak from Experience.

wuo

This is good advice. It should be no surprise that the less than honest will do their best to weasel out of fault and I’ve known of a good number who saved their bacon with the cam.

And to JY below, a car cam system just may save your defense position in a road rage encounter that could include firearms. In Oregon you’d get crucified without it.
There. I fixed the context for you 🙂

TGP389

This is a good idea. I was completing a turn after the light changed after being caught in the intersection, which is legal in my state, when 2 kids (early 20s) on a 600 cc Suzuki ran the red light oncoming, and pegged my truck, killing them both. Not only do I have PTSD, but the driver’s mother sued me. I felt awful enough just from survivor guilt. The kid was trying to beat a light that had already changed. Luckily, a transit system camera caught him accelerating, and reflections on the back of the road signs showed the light… Read more »

Oldvet

Dean I can empathize , many times out on the road cars have underestimated distance and speed . Everyone wants to be in front of that big truck ! They also don’t realize big trucks can’t stop as fast .

musicman44mag

I learned that very thing driving a dump truck with a full load and everyone runs stop signs to get in front of you not realizing they almost became a hood ornament. I see a big truck coming and if I think there is time to get in front of them and gas it and they don’t have to slow down, I go for it. If I don’t think that is the case, I wait. It also takes some time to get back up to speed with a big heavy load. When I drive my 40ft motorhome, I get the… Read more »

Bakerc7

I’ve seen this a lot. A car is zipping left lane, right lane, in and out very close to others and myself. Then there we BOTH are at the stoplight. So, what did dangerous/aggressive driving accomplish?

Novice.but.learning

Happened to me today on a wet road. A Ford F350 passed me on the RIGHT in the parking lane going about 40 in a 25 zone. The pickup bed swung into my lane about 3′ from my right fender as it accelerated into the left lane to pass another car. And yes, I was exactly one car behind the F-350 at the next signal.

Good advice to put dash cams front and rear.

Trussman

100% glad that you are alive and well. This is one of the reasons that I carry spare underwear in my go bag.

GomeznSA

Dean – glad you didn’t get into a mashup – this time 😉
We have likely all been in similar situations and fortunately are still around to tell the tales.
I try to have the live and let live attitude toward such idiocy since dwelling on it might cause ulcers or something. All we can do is be the best and safest driver possible and try to reach our destinations safely.

Finnky

Tough with a big truck blocking your rearward view. Been known to drive on the shoulder when someone pulls anything as idiotic as this. Remember lines painted on the pavement are only suggestions – a reminder of where to drive so as to arrive alive. Cars have been improved to be much safer than they used to, however 150mph head on is not survivable. RV’s are built differrently and with different safety features. Bumper might be enough to push SUV under the driver’s seat and allow RV passengers to survive, though it is likely to roll as well as being… Read more »

Novice.but.learning

Driving on the shoulder has lots of its own risks. Most roads I’ve driven across town or across country have crapola scattered along the shoulders. Sometimes there are stretches where trash isn’t much of a hazard. Other times there are tires, boards, boxes, etc. Ducking toward the shoulder is a last resort. Dean said he didn’t have time to do anything fancy so shoulder escape wasn’t in his box of options.

Shooter Bob

I was so hoping that you were going to say they were in front of you with a cop car’s lights flashing.

Bigfootbob

Sobering story. Glad everyone are safe. Seems like you may have had God as your co-driver.

Because our cars are much safer, people like to push the envelope not considering how dangerous it is…or people today are impatient jerks.

Deplorable Bill

You are and were blessed

Arm up and carry on

Coelacanth

Watch out for the maniacs!

45crittergitter

“Over the few miles to Quartzsite, it could have turned off of 95, and another similar car turned on to take its place.”

It is also possible that the original SUV did not turn off but passed a similar one, and the second one is the one you caught up with. 

lktraz

Welcome to my world. I drive a tractor trailer from central PA to Elizabeth, NJ or South Plainfield, NJ most days. Occasionally my destination is elsewhere. I travel I-78 and I-287 to my NJ destinations and the traffic conditions are less than stellar even at 5am. Incidents like this are sadly more common that you would imagine. Far too many people have a total disregard for the safety of those they share the road with. A dash cam and even better a 2 camera front/rear setup are becoming the wisest investment one can make these days. The attitude of “Hooray… Read more »

musicman44mag

I liken the way people act today as children fighting over toys. Mine, Mine. It used to be that you turn your signal on to let someone know you are changing lanes and they let you in, some even back off a bit. I flash my highs as to say, go ahead. Now when you turn your signal on, they pull up and fill the space because the space you are taking in Mine Mine Mine. I wish more signs that say share the road would help but it is a teaching problem that goes back to how children are… Read more »

Last edited 9 days ago by musicman44mag
USMC0351Grunt

Here in the border towns of Texas if you are on a two-way road and are turning on your left turn signal to make a left turn across the oncoming lane into a driveway, this action evidently indicates to the Mexican nationals that are behind that since your left turn signal is flashing that they should speed up and pass you on your left side… With auto insurance as it is these days, I don’t even think that uninsured motorist policy would do you any good. Very thankful for God in many cases as my best insurance policy.

musicman44mag

In orgoneistan if no one is injured and it takes place in a parking lot, the cops don’t show up. She had no insurance, no plates on the car, an international drivers license and all the information she provided was fake. I had my wife take pictures of the Vintag in the windshield. The car was reported as salvaged title. I have her picture and would love to post it everywhere but unfortunately, she took pictures of my wifes drivers license so she knows where we live if she were to find out. My wife thinks she was an illegal… Read more »

Stag

Glad it turned out the way it did and you’re ok!

Jim

If you have a head on collision with another vehiclet over 60mph the odds are very bad that you will survive.

DDS

If you drive on any expressway in Miami-Dade, Broward, or to a lesser extent, Palm Beach Counties here in South Florida, you’ll average one incident like that per trip.

KenW

You can add Jacksonville to that list.

TGP389

Something very similar happened to me last week. I was driving on a local 2 lane street, where the speed limit went from 35 mph where I was to 50 mph in a hundred yards or so. I was doing the speed limit, and Rocket Man, behind me just had to zoom around me. What he didn’t know was the car ahead of me was about to make a left turn, directly into his path. I pressed the brakes sharply, giving him time and room to get back in my lane or he would have T-boned the other driver. At… Read more »

Big George

Your article brought back some unpleasant memories driving on Hwy.95. The wife and I used to go to the gem show in Quartzite every year, but the type of morons driving and disrespecting RV’s made the drive too ‘white knuckle’ for me! The type of driver you described must’ve thought my 35′ Winnebago could stop on a dime when they’d cut me off while passing me!

nrringlee

Folks need to understand one clear truth about driving in the desert Southwest. Set condition red. Our highways and freeways are mainline paths of the cartels moving drugs and illegals North and East. We need to be aware of threats not only from entitled millennials in a hurry to get nowhere fast but folks with evil intent intending to do evil in spite of our noble plans and intentions. This part of the country has in many ways become hostile territory because our rogue federal government has surrendered the border states to the cartels.

HankB

I grew up in Chicago and worked in Minnesota for years, and believe me, idiot drivers abound everywhere. But after moving to Texas a quarter century ago (love the state!) Texas drivers and roads are unique. For example, in my first month down here I saw more people run red lights than I saw up north in 5 years. Fortunately, when I was learning to drive, my Dad taught me to check cross traffic before proceeding on a green after being stopped for a red light. Most dangerous strip of road I know of in Texas is the northern section… Read more »

Finnky

Migrated to Texas even earlier than you, though from California. After getting used to driving here I find California drivers truly terrifying by comparison. Have visited some of the far eastern states (anything E of Mississippi river) and my observation has been that driving gets worse the further north or east you go.

JY

Next your going to tell us you spent 5 extra minutes on the toilet. All part of driving and the story should not have left the dinner table and made it on here. Glad you are safe.

JY

Havent we seen this almost death experience here before. We just finished Shot Show and this is the best we can do. Maybe time for a new writer who wants to discuss guns and not every day experience for anyone that drives a car.

musicman44mag

I’ve got you all beat. I drive I-5 the most dangerous road in America. I lived in Sacramento CA, the road rage capital of the USA. Don’t believe me? Look it up. I always watch my 6. If I see a big black SUV like an Escalade or Navigator I watch them like a hawk. It’s either FEDS, Momma Ceta with her 6 kids and no car insurance, gang bangers with no car insurance or an interference rig for drug runners or the actual mule without insurance. I bet down in TX, AZ, NM and CA on the border, you… Read more »

Last edited 12 days ago by musicman44mag
PistolGrip44

I think you may have way overexaggerated the situation. Typical cop think!

Ope

What would be his reason for any over exaggeration about this? You’re an expert on how police think?

PistolGrip44

Okay…. bootlicker.

Tionico

How much of Dean’s work have you actually READ? He is one writer who pays attention to detail on a level that makes most others I’ve read rank amateurs. I would bet his distance and speed estimates are accurate within five percent. Dean, I rather suspect that if Mr Hurried had miscalculated by a small margin and HIT either you or the MoHome oncoming that pickup and trailer behind you, following at about 80 feet, could not have avoided the pileup. I’d also bet that if you had taken a nanosecond to check his position behind you as the SUV… Read more »

Jayson

average day on the road, drama llama.