|The wreckage - Pic courtesy of Shamsul KLM1|
|The site of the Wreckage|
On 18th November 2010, while I was having a teh tarik session with friends, I received an SMS about a car plunging into a ravine at 35.4KM Karak-Kuala Lumpur Highway. Initial reports of it plunging into a river at the bottom of the ravine requires the water rescue team on-site. Hitching a ride with an officer, we proceeded to the location.
|Suspected 'entry' point|
|Abseiling down to look for clues|
The rescue team faced difficulty to get any clues as to whom the car belonged to as the car was upside down in knee deep mud. Thus, getting the engine or chassis number was out of the question. Looking at the gradient, surroundings of the location where the wreckage was found, its mind boggling to figure out how this car could have ended up at the bottom this bridge. From past experience 'rescuing' in this area, me and a small team went through the old Gombak-Bentong road, which runs parallel to the highway, to look for clues. Without any reference to the wreckage location, we came upon an area that we suspected could be the 'entry' point of the car.
|Coordinates taken from my GPS|
Due to the darkness of the night, in order to confirm our theory, I had used my personal GPS to mark the coordinates, upload the data into my netbook and locate on the map. True enough, what I see on the map more or less increases the accuracy of our theory. Traces of landslide at this area also confirms the scene that the team scouting the ravine below came upon...a landslide. Also from the data, it clearly shows the gradient was a difference of 80m+ between the suspected point of entry and the wreckage location. At 0130hrs, we received instruction to Stand Down for the day.
|The K9 Units|
At 0900hrs, my JPAM team comprising of 20 members met up with the police's K9 (Crime) team. The Bomba guys would not be joining the operations today. Under the command of Tuan Sam, the traffic police officer from Bukit Aman, we headed off to the location. The K9 team comprised of 4 dogs, German Shepherds. These K9s from the crime unit looks, barks and even acts more ferociously than those rescue dogs that we are used to...like the one in this story. I won't want to be on the receiving end of those fangs. Funnily, they bark with much enthusiasm everytime Jai, one of my team members walks by. I jokingly told him, "Jauh sikit Jai, uniform hang tu busuk macam bau mayat kot' (Stand further away, maybe your uniform stinks like a corpse) ...hahaha.
|JPAM and PDRM Vehicles On-Site|
|The dizzying depth of the ravine seen from the Highway on top. Can you spot the car?|
|JPAM & PDRM's K9 scouring the area for evidence|
We re-visited the wreckage location. During the day, the actual scene differs entirely. The depth of the ravine is of dizzying height. We assisted the police personnel to get down on-site together with their K9s. Our team securely setup anchors for the rope, enabling team members a safe abseiling access down below. In the meantime, the MTD was called in to extricate the wreckage, or at least raise it high enough for us to get to the engine or chassis number. The MTD brought in their 'Kembalik' team. Due to the depth of the ravine, they had to improvise to add some extra length to the cable.
|The wreckage on the way up|
|Anyone wants a used Kia Optima?|
The JPAM team below helped to secure the cables to the wreck, and also used their static rope as a guideline (so that the wreck doesn't twist or turn). As the wreckage was almost to the top, disaster struck. A few hoisting cable either snapped or slipped...until at last it was dangling precariously from one of the cables. Upon talking to the MTD guys, a decision was made to lower back the wreckage and reposition the cables. After all, safety first.
|The 'kembalik' leaked its hydraulic fluid at the most crucial time...bummer|
|Apart from my nice car in the foreground...I wanted to show the sawdust that was used to absorb the hydraulic fluid|
As the wreckage was being lowered, again...another disaster. Suddenly there was a gush of hydraulic fluids from the 'Kembalik'. There goes all hope of hoisting the wreckage back up for today. My concern was the safety of the other motorist, especially the motorcyclists. Hydraulic fluid is very slippery, and the impending rain judging from the dark cloud formation would only quicken and expand the rate of its flow. The MTD was quick to bring in sawdust to absorb the fluid. The operation was again halted to wait for repair works on the hydraulics and also for MTD to send fresh hydraulic fluid to the scene.
After some repairs, the 'lowering' activity continued. About a few metres from the ground, disaster #3. The MTD had, in its earlier efforts to secure the snapped cables, relieved some of the chains used by them to improvise (as mentioned earlier), thus causing the length of the cable to shorten by a few metres. As they were using 2 winches, a decision was made to let the cable of one winch (the shorten side) go. But guess what...they didn't have the right spanner...so more waiting for someone to send the spanner.
|Massive traffic jam|
At last, the whole operation ended at 1700hrs....more than 24 hours after it was first reported. This operation had forced MTD to close 1 or 2 lanes of the highway. Traffic jam stretched for a few kilometres. It was made worst by cars slowing down to look. I was wondering why some cars were like driving so slow....until I saw the drivers holding mobile phones discreetly under their arm, obviously video taping the scene. CRAZY!!!
Highway concessionaire should ensure that their equipments, especially safety/rescue related are well equipped and maintained, with trained personnel to handle them. Preparation for emergencies should cover the extremes...ie if you have ravines, make sure you have sufficient cable length for the deepest ravine you have. As how I had submitted a proposal to one Highway Concessionary, I had suggested to them to train their 'Response Team' not ONLY in Traffic Management, but to expand their scope as a trained First Responder. Most of the time, they are the first team to arrive at any accident scene on the highways. (They were interested until they came to the training costs...after that quiet, no response) Come on guys, you already have the personnel and the vehicles. All you need to do is spend a bit more for training and rescue equipments.
Oh ya, we managed to get the number plate. After all that effort, it was actually reported stolen a few weeks back. Sisshh...next time any of you want to dispose of a vehicle you had stolen, please, please, please...put up a sign on the dashboard that says ' Maaf, ini kereta curi. Tiada orang atau binatang tercedera atau terbunuh semasa kereta ini dibuang ' (Sorry, this car was stolen. No human or animal was hurt or killed during the disposal of this car)