Our Motorhome was Destroyed

Our Motorhome was Destroyed

February 26th through March 2nd, 2023

We left Las Cruces, New Mexico, in our 2019 Newmar Dutch Star 4369. Life was amazing, and we were blissfully happy. There was some wind in the forecast, but nothing we were too worried about. It was a drive from Las Cruces to Carlsbad, and it's almost always windy. It's western Texas, after all.

We drove a couple hours, intending on stopping at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. It was on the way, and they had RV parking. The wind had picked up as we left a wide plain and headed up into a relatively narrow mountain range. We parked in the RV lot near the highway, in view of the pass we just came up. There were no other RVs or cars around us, and we parked the car and boat nearby but not immediately next to us. We left the dog, Lacey, in the motorhome and went into the visitor center for the park.

Margot went back to the RV to retrieve her forgotten phone. It was getting very, very windy at that point. We could see the mountains around us when we first got there, but visibility was decreasing quickly. You could barely see the mountains.

All of the cell phones in the visitor center went off at nearly the same time with weather notifications warning about high winds in the area. The wind whistled through the windows and doors of the visitor center, and we sat down inside to wait it out. We weren't worried about Lacey -- we knew the motorhome would likely rock back and forth a bit, but she's been in windy conditions before and she does well.

About 5 minutes after we sat down, a parks worker came in and said "whoever owns the RV, it went over." We had no idea what "went over" meant, but we both assumed the brakes had failed and it had gone into a ditch. We went outside and fought the winds, hurrying to where our RV was parked. Well, where it was parked when we left it.

It had actually blown over on its side! It weighed 47,000 pounds -- almost 24 tons. And the wind blew it over. We were both in shock (and we still are), and a parks ranger parked his truck next to the motor home (the roof) so he could jump to the top. Luckily, it blew over so the one and only door was at the top. He got inside and retrieved Lacey. She was uninjured and seemed a bit scared, but she calmed down as soon as she was with us. The car and boat were fine, so we put her in the car out of the wind.

You could barely stand up. Margot and the ranger climbed down into the coach, walking on the driver's side walls to retrieve as much of value as they could. They could only get as far as the refrigerator. They were able to grab all of our electronics near the front, and it seemed that only the NAS enclosure was broken. All laptops, tablets, and screens survived. Monica had her work laptop.

From what we could see, the passenger-side slide had collapsed a bit into the coach, like a drawer going too far into a dresser. A lot of the furniture that was "permanently" attached to the walls and floor had come away from the walls and floor, and everything was jumbled. The wind was blowing hard, the temperatures were falling, and the only clothing we had was what we were wearing. Margot stood in shorts and a t-shirt next to park rangers in parkas and hats. We left the site in a few hours with everything of value that we could retrieve. The rangers put everything from our little Swivelwheel trailer into their truck -- it looked like everything survived, though a bin filled with life jackets was nowhere to be found.

The Guadalupe Mountains are two hours from El Paso to the west and one hour from Carlsbad to the east. We decided to stay in Carlsbad so we could get back to the coach quickly. When we got to Carlsbad, we stopped at Walmart to buy clothes, toothbrushes, shampoo, and everything else we needed (it ended up being quite a lot). We ended up at a hotel, exhausted and stressed out.

We couldn't get it towed for a couple days because the winds were still too strong. We spent the next day renting a U-Haul and spending a lot of time on the phone with insurance and towing companies. We set up a tow for the next morning at 9AM, to take it to a shop in El Paso. Unfortunately, the park also set up a tow for the same timeframe and didn't tell anyone (including their coworkers). That would end up making the towing day even more stressful than the first day.

We planned on getting to the RV at 8:30AM to take the cellular antenna off of the roof, and we got a phone call from the park at 8AM telling us the towing company was already there. We missed seeing it tip over, and we missed seeing it righted again. We also had to wait and get on the roof later to get the antenna.

We were able to clear more things out of the RV while the towing company disconnected the drive shaft and put the front tires up on a big wrecker. The other wrecker (it took two of them to pull it back up on its tires) lifted our little trailer up off the ground. They left and said they'd meet us there, and we went to retrieve our bikes and the other things that were on the trailer. We started our two-hour drive to El Paso to the shop.

We were about 30 minutes from El Paso when we got a phone call from our towing company -- the one we arranged through our insurance company -- saying they were there and couldn't find the RV. The first company wasn't the right company, not the one we arranged, and things turned into a huge mess. Our motorhome had been towed to a shop in Van Horn, about two hours south of where it tipped over. We were almost two hours west where our hotel was waiting. The best-laid plans were destroyed.

We tried to get our RV towed to El Paso. The company that originally towed it said they wouldn't tow it again (it sounded like they were a bit over their capacity the day before). No one could tow it. Eventually, our insurance agreed to leave it in Van Horn. We left El Paso and headed to our third hotel in a week.

It took a long time to find everything and pack it all up once we got to our poor motorhome. The worst damage was in the back bathroom. The washer and dryer destroyed a wall and the shower glass when it tumbled into the shower, blocking our way. We had to move the dryer to get back there. The bedroom slide and large, driver's side slide still moved on their own, so we were able to expand things a bit to retrieve everything.

Everything in the basement survived. Nearly everything in the kitchen was destroyed. The bedroom was practically untouched (a pair of computer monitors flew through the air twice and survived!). We bagged everything up and tossed it into the U-Haul.

Bottom line, the three of us are physically fine and mentally improving every day.

Would we get another RV?

Yes, absolutely, this doesn't change anything as far as our plans go. A "sticks and bricks" house can catch fire or be destroyed by extreme weather. Living in a motorhome will allow us to escape a wildfire or tornado if we have enough time after the first warning, and you can't do that with a house. What happened was a freak accident, and we haven't met anyone who has heard of the same thing happening to something so big, so heavy, and parked.

What happened next?

We were lucky to have good friends with a house a short distance south of Tucson, so we took the U-Haul, car, and boat to stay with them for a bit. It was nice to have a friendly and comfortable place to collect our lives and figure out our next steps.

Use the buttons below to read the whole, crazy story!

This Post Has 28 Comments

  1. I am sooo sorry.?

    1. We’re recovering — it’s been a trial!

  2. Wow, love you guys. If there is anything I can do to help from here, just ask?

    1. Thanks, Joe, we’re making it work. Hopefully we see you this summer.

  3. WOW, I am so glad you guys are were not hurt. The stress for this must be over the top. Take care of yourselves. We’re thinking of you.

    1. Thanks, Kathy, it has been a pretty stressful experience. Sometimes we can’t even believe it happened. It’s still so crazy…

  4. Your story was unbelievable! Deborah and I are glad you are ok and Lacey probably had the ride of her life. Enjoy the rest of your travels and maybe we’ll catch up some time with you.
    Deb and Deborah

    1. Crazy, right? Good to hear from you!

  5. Has anyone come up with a reason for the flip? It looks to me like the trailer may have started to roll over and could have precipitated the roll stress on the coach (considering the way that the solid tube connection to the coach hitch is twisted).

    1. The twist was in a hitch extension and that probably twisted as a result. The trailer only weighed 950 pounds, loaded. So, I’m guessing it was just a casualty.

  6. We live in Odessa about 1 1/2 hours from Guadalupe. That’s probably the day we had 55-60 winds and weather said Guadalupe had 85-90 winds. Glad y’all are ok, little later you could have been caught on the highway. Don’t trusts Van Horn unless insurance is going to total it. Just FY I there is a great RV repair place here in Odessa, AAA RV Repair on north Hwy 385. Good lick and God Bless

    1. Van Horn was an experience but it all turned out well. I’ll bet that was the same day. What a mess…

  7. I just read this…oh, my God,! So glad you are all okay, & poor Lacy was fine. Are you recovered emotionally? I’ve always been afraid of strong winds, up never thought it could blow over something that heavy. You were wish to have left it. Our RV’ s name is “Winddancer”, out of respect for the wind.
    What now? Is .your RV abled to be e repaired or total loss?
    I never saw anything on Facebook, am I not connected to you? We are slowly heading ack to home, currently at North Myrtle Beach.

    1. We will admit to being slackers on Facebook. If you see a light red bell near the bottom of pages on the website you can subscribe to get notifications of new posts. Keep reading parts 2 and 3 to see how it all turned out. We’re doing well!

  8. Glad no one was hurt including Lacy! I love your posative attitude! As long as no one was injured it’s just stuff. You can always buy more stuff. Glad you’re going to keep rving. Maybe we will meet on the road one day! ❤️

  9. Wow! I was in Mojave National Preserve and gusts up to 57mph… I was Googling whether or not I could tip over and the internet seemed to agree staying put was the better option. You did everything right and still had an insane outcome!

    1. We will always be second guessing ourselves, but not sure it would have turned out differently.

  10. Yowza! We were in the area, and concerned about that forecast wind, so decided to travel extra long the previous day to avoid it (blog post about that coming up soon on my Sinclair Trails blog). I’m sure glad we did! And glad you and your dog were okay.

  11. Holy smokes! Glad to read you are all ok physically & improving mentally. Talk about a mind warp! Is the RV reparable?

    1. Nope, most definitely totaled.

  12. Crazy! Never seen an RV on its side that isn’t caused by a blow out! Glad everyone is safe, the RV can be replaced.. BTW, I sell Newmar’s and have a great selection of you need help getting another one.. Safe travels.

    1. We bought the last coach through Transwest of Frederick. Great experience! This one came from Arizona.

  13. Sorry to see the story…we have a 2019 DS 4328 (exact same exterior paint scheme) and live near San Antonio…we travelled through El Paso on our way to spend a month here in Phoenix on March 31st…

  14. Glad you are OK, MnM. Wind, indeed. A semi blew over on the Richmond Bridge across the San Francisco Bay last year. More heat in the atmosphere means more energy means more and higher winds. Wind-driven fires are the latest extreme danger. Be safe, everybody.

    1. It’s getting scary out there, but we are overly cautious now. You stay safe, too.

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