Saturday, September 30, 2023


RV boo-boos: RVer wakes up to demolished motorhome

“A nightmare is only a dream, and when it is worst, you wake up.” So wrote Laura Ingalls Wilder. For reader Kenneth P., the worst began when he woke up. His motorhome was demolished and his wife, Patsy, was seriously injured. What happened?

Bluegrass nightmare

Ken and Patsy had taken their Class A motorhome to a family reunion in Tennessee. When the affair wrapped up, the couple wanted to get an early start for home. They plotted in their home destination, and their GPS directed them through Kentucky on some of those beautiful Bluegrass State backroads. Sounds like a dream trip, eh?

Well, we normally associate dreams with sleep and, sadly, that’s what happened to Ken. Behind the wheel, Ken nodded off. “I woke up,” Ken recalls, “headed down a deep ditch. The first thing I saw was a driveway going across that ditch.” Not a good thing, as Ken’s coach left the roadway at 55 miles per hour.

demolished“I went airborne,” says Ken, “and came down on two wheels.” When the dust settled, Ken and Patsy’s coach was demolished. “The walls separated from the floor,” he recalls. “My Jeep broke loose and hit the hill across the road.” As to the wheels? One of them vanished for parts unknown and was never found.

Tallying the loss

Ken escaped without serious injury. “I was hanging on [to the steering wheel] for dear life and I had my seatbelt on.” Sadly, Patsy didn’t fare as well. She was unbelted, and now, two back surgeries later, thankfully, is “doing much better.” The couple is happy she’s returning to health, but rues their situation.

“I only had liability insurance,” Ken points out. “I left the motorhome in Kentucky.” From the looks of the photograph of the demolished coach, it’s no surprise. We can only feel Ken and Patsy’s pain and hope things turn out for them.

Fence line chat

Then there’s the “lighter side” of GPS stories. Happily, for John V. his story ends, not with a demolished RV, but rather with a “fence line chat.” John relates the story of driving through the plains.

demolished“While driving in South Dakota we punched in some place tied to the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ story.” Everything went well at the top, but as things progressed, it got a little messy. “The big road became smaller,” says John. “We suspected ESP—error some place—but we were in a totally unknown area.” Not to worry! “Because we were farmers, we continued until the ‘next left’ literally would have sent us into a plowed field.”

What to do? If your GPS betrays you, look for local advice. “We found a lady waiting nearby with a tractor and wagon, so we chatted a half hour or so about her farming stories and ours,” recalls John. “Perhaps this was as informative as many ‘real tourist places.’”

If you’ve witnessed, or had your own, “RV boo-boo” moment and have a photo to share with others, let us know. Fill out the form below, and put “boo-boo” on the subject line. Be sure to link your photo with the attachment tool on the form. You don’t need a demolished RV to make a story. 

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.

Other stories by Russ and Tiña De Maris


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.


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Jeff Craig
1 year ago

Oy Vey! I feel for Ken and Patsy, but remind people that the beauty of a motorhome is that you can pull over and SLEEP when you get tired, and I’d imagine there were a few spots he could have stopped at along the way. I’m not passing judgement, because I almost became a statistic back in the early 90’s in SW Virginia.

As for GPS, I use the RV Life GPS (running on my ‘Camping Phone’ that I use as a hotspot) and WAZE (on my main phone) so I have the safest route plotted, and I also use Flattest Route and Google Earth to scan the roads, and keep a weathered eye on bridge and overpass warnings for the height issues with my RV.

1 year ago

Re: GPS We are old school (literally) and still prefer paper maps. No internet or cell service needed and can see a much larger area for travel, even neat smaller state roads with really nice views of the area, plus much less traffic. Try it – you might like it!

1 year ago
Reply to  Linda

Maybe it’s our age…. We have a GPS because it was a retirement gift someone gave us. Handy as it is, we don’t always trust it. So also refer to a real map at all times when we travel. Also, most places we go, cell service is just plain unavailable.

Ron T.
1 year ago

Gamble #1 Liability-only insurance. Gamble #2 Patsy not wearing a seat belt. If you can’t afford to lose, you can’t afford to win. Hope she fully recovers.

Regarding GPS, as a backup check your favorite phone map app to see your destination then zoom out to see your current location. In other words, look at the entire route. Don’t just trust that turn-by-turn voice.

Ron L
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron T.

You forgot gamble #3 Driving while tired enough to fall asleep.

Ron T.
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron L


Tommy Molnar
1 year ago

After spending a ton of years driving 18 wheelers at night, I no longer go ANYWHERE at night. Period. It’s way to easy for terrible stuff like this to happen.

1 year ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Amen to that Tommy! My problem is with animals (namely deer) and those new headlites! Impossible to see past them and eye recovery time is too long a period to be driving virtually blind.

1 year ago

Must be nice to have so much money that you can afford to “throw away” a motor home since you only had liability insurance.

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