Refreshed after a great day yesterday we set off for one of the largest cities in China and apparently one of the nicest also, a place called Xian.
The roads today were in bad condition and also very slow as the work men were out trying to improve the terrain. We had been stuck in a few traffic jams and progress was slow. Convoy driving was going well with radio contact being imperative for over taking manoeuvres, when disaster struck, the radio message I heard was that a Defender was down. I reversed up the road and jumped out of my vehicle, I looked across the road to find the defender lying on its side. My first thoughts were for the driver and luckily self extrication had already taken place and no injuries had been sustained. I was really impressed with the rest of the team who must have taken on board the RTC training that Prometheus had supplied as they had approached the defender with caution and had moved away until fire extinguishers had been fetched when they were unsure what kind of fluid was leaking from the underneath carriage. A quick once over of the driver and a sigh of relief from everyone when the only damage had been to the defender and no one else had been hurt.
The guys who had been on the winching course that Land Rover had supplied before departure jumped into action and before I knew it they had a plan in place. Feeling a little useless I wondered up the road following the skid marks to see where the accident had begun. Looking back toward the scene on the right hand side was a sheer drop and I realised just how lucky we had been when the defender had steered to the left.
Before long the police arrived but found there was no need to help us as we had everything required for the recovery in the vehicles. I was so impressed by the calm approach of the entire team, everyone took on a role and the vehicle was successfully recovered within 10 minutes. A wheel change also took place before we could move and then a decision to tow the vehicle to the next town was made.
On route the wheels were set in motion regarding recovery of the defender and when we arrived at the next town the local police man took us to a repair yard where we could sort out all the kit from the defender and contact people back home for help and advice.
All the kit was recovered safely and to my surprise nothing inside had been damaged including the BGAN, which was lucky as we needed to send pictures back to England quickly for confirmation of what to do next. In a small remote town such as the one we had just arrived in an internet cafe was no where to be found.
Recovery of the vehicle was organised with help from Land Rover dealership in Shanghai and we found a small hotel in town to sleep for the night and await recovery.
In the morning the vehicle was successfully recovered and before we could carry on with our journey we had to visit the Police station. We were invited into the board room where the Chief of Police inundated us with fruit from the town. He personally apologised for the appalling road surface and explained that there are numerous RTC's on that stretch of road most days. After paperwork had been completed they gave us a police escort to the border and wished us a safe journey.
On reflection the training and calm approach paid off and what could have been a terrible day turned out to be a remarkable team effort with the only tragedy now being that five Land Rovers are now down to four.
Melissa Wade SRP