Sometimes Stuff Happens

The bad news is that a Homes On Wheels Alliance (HOWA) minivan was in an accident last Friday and is likely totaled.  It was to be awarded to someone in need next month, along with another three minivans. 

The good news is that the minivan’s driver (paid staff) and passenger (a volunteer) walked away; although, they were quite shook-up and had some cuts and bruises.  Also, much of the camping gear and equipment from October’s Build Out will be saved and used in a replacement minivan.  The best news is that our staff person was able to swerve to avoid a head-on collision and likely saved lives. Another vehicle came at the HOWA minivan trying to pass a line of cars on a 2-lane road.  Sadly, the oncoming vehicle did not stop but, thanks to some witnesses who followed and called law enforcement, the wrong-way driver was apprehended. 

We’re sad for the injuries of our colleagues and the likely loss of the minivan.  And, at the same time, we’re very thankful that this was not a fatal accident.

We will get a replacement minivan and award it to someone in need.  Note: HOWA is still on track to build out and award three other minivans in April.

For those that want more detail about the accident, current status, and lessons learned here is our accident report.

Report of Accident of a HOWA Minivan

Accident:  On Friday, February 28, 2020, the Homes On Wheels Alliance (HOWA) 2003 Dodge Caravan minivan, built out last October, was in an accident.  The driver, a HOWA staff person, was taken to Emergency, treated and released the same day.  The passenger, a HOWA volunteer, elected not to be seen at the hospital.  To avoid a head-on collision with a wrong-way driver, the minivan swerved and then crashed.  A few of the accident’s witnesses followed the wrong-way driver until apprehended by law enforcement.  Other witnesses stayed to help at the scene of the accident.

Status as of 3/4/20: We are waiting to get a copy of the accident report.  The minivan was towed to impound and is waiting to be seen by an insurance adjuster.  We expect the minivan to be a total loss.  Once the adjuster has completed the assessment, we will remove all salvageable camping supplies and equipment to be used in a replacement minivan build.  The minivan had only liability insurance.

Background:  This minivan was one of five vehicles awarded at the October 2019 Build Out.  Unfortunately, the health of its recipient did not allow her to camp out of the vehicle as she had hoped.  Alternate applicants didn’t take the minivan due to either changes in their life circumstances or an inability for us to reach them using the contact information provided.  So, HOWA decided to award the minivan later and displayed it at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR) and Women’s RTR. 

Initial Outcomes:  HOWA is reviewing our practice that allows for use of vehicles which will be given to those in need.  We are now down to three, instead of four minivans to be awarded in April 2020.  In addition, donors entrusted HOWA with their contributions for its build out for someone in need.   Sadly, this minivan award is now delayed. 

Expected Actions:  HOWA will establish a policy addressing use of vehicles waiting to be awarded to someone in need.

Summary:  We are extremely grateful that HOWA’s staff and the volunteer in the minivan did not sustain life-threatening injuries, or worse.  In addition, we are thankful to the many witnesses who stopped to help at the crash site and in apprehending the wrong-way driver.  Our experiences with law enforcement, insurance, and the impound yard have been smooth and helpful.  Although we don’t know how long it will take, we expect HOWA to be made whole and have a replacement minivan to award in the future.