4WD Recovery Deaths in Australia (it happens often)

4WD recoveries are dangerous. The level of risk is so high that it’s killed more than a few Australians in the last two decades, and plenty more overseas. This post highlights some of the deaths in Australia that have taken place around 4WD recoveries, with the relevant news articles/posts to go with it.

Writing and researching this post has been quite unpleasant and rather shocking, but I’m still seeing people do things in 4WD recoveries that ultimately risk their lives and those around them, and I want to see it stop. Share this with your friends and family, so the message sinks in; 4WD recoveries can, and do kill people. Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone you know!

Esperance 4WD recovery
4WD recoveries can, and have killed a number of people in Australia

Please take time when doing 4WD recoveries, and have a read of 20 things you should never do in a 4WD recovery.

4WD recovery deaths are almost always preventable, and come as a result of things not being done properly, shortcuts being taken or just sheer bad luck.

Everyone within about 100 metres of a 4WD including the drivers, passengers and bystanders are all at risk during a 4WD recovery particularly when snatch straps, drag chains or winches are involved. Please, please do things safely so you don’t end up like the below cases:

25/9/20 A 15 year old School girl killed in a farm accident

15 year old school girl killed in a towing accident.

17/3/18 A 51 Year old man north of Mackay was killed when a strap broke:

Man killed as towing strap snaps and hits him in the head.

15/6/17 A 26 Year old man from Yepoon was killed when a towing strap broke

Yepoon man killed in freak accident

12/07/15 Man hit in the back of the head – serious condition

Man hit in the back of head

12/12/2010 A 14 year old boy died when a hook hit him in the head

14 year old boy dies

20/8/2011 Lady killed near Geraldton when a towball broke off and hit her in the throat

Tow ball kills mother of three (article now removed)

11/08/2009 A 13 year old girl killed in a Rotary Club 4WD event when part of the bull bar broke off

Girl killed in freak accident

2/10/2009 Young lad at the end of football season killed when tow ball broke off

Towing accident death

15/3/2005 30 year old Queensland man died after a metal hook broke off a truck and hit him in the stomach

30 year old QLD man dies

Rhett from Lorella

Lastly to end on a better note, a bit of a feel good video of an absolute legend from Lorella Springs Station in the Northern Territory who had a terrible accident on the property. It wasn’t a 4WD recovery, but it was using a snatch strap and drag chain and it very nearly cost him his life. Have a watch of this fantastic clip:

YouTube video

The tools that you have access to in a 4WD recovery literally have the ability to kill or seriously hurt someone. Please think about what you are doing before you recover a 4WD!

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  1. Hey Kevin,

    It’s certainly good to see new recovery gear coming out on the market, but it never makes up for a lack of understanding, or acceptance of high risk scenarios.

    We’re still using traditional Bow shackles. Yep, they’re heavy, but they won’t break, are cheap and can be used on all recovery points. They should never become a missile unless a recovery point breaks.

    Completely agree about snatching being a last resort, unless its gentle and well controlled. Maxtrax are incredible, and completely safe.

    Cheers for your thoughts!

    All the best

  2. Kevin Casey says:

    Fortunately, technology has progressed in the recovery field. These days, soft shackles (instead of heavy D-shackles), lightweight alloy snatch rings (instead of heavy snatch pulley blocks), and the growing popularity of synthetic winch rope (far less kinetic energy when it snaps, compared to steel cable) are all making four wheeling safer. I also prefer the new kinetic rope over the traditional Aussie snatch strap – it lasts longer and works better, in my opinion. Snatch straps should be a last resort too, not a first choice. A set of 4 Max Trax and a decent shovel will get people out of 95% of bog situations without drama.

  3. Hey Andy,

    I don’t mate, and have never heard or seen of any injuries from them. I guess you could do a manual handling injury trying to lift them out but would have thought they are pretty fool proof other than that.

    All the best

  4. Andy Harker says:

    Hi, do you have any statistical information on injuries relating to maxtrax or other recovery board use?

    Thanks in advance