Video: Matt’s Off-Road Recovery Rescues Sinkhole-Trapped Cherokee

There’s a hidden scoreboard somewhere, pitting off-roaders versus Mother Nature. Off-roaders add a tick whenever they make it through a trail without trouble, and Mother Nature gains a point whenever she traps a rig. The guys at Matt’s Off Road Recovery don’t mind the score. But they do mind her keeping rigs trapped forever.

On this particular occasion, Mother Nature took the lead. Two guys in a ’90s Cherokee took a chance on a degrading trail in Salina Canyon, Utah. When the sinkhole struck, it left them stranded as the SUV pitched 45 degrees into the hole and without a real clear way to get out. The experts at Matt’s Off Road Recovery made it to the scene, but they immediately knew they had their work cut out for them.

Half-sunken into the earth, the XJ is dangerously close to getting swallowed whole.

Upon closer inspection of the trail, the rescue team discovered that there was a network of ruts and crevasses all over the place. Potentially, the guys would need to be more careful than usual, and avoid the same fate as the silver XJ. Matt decided to try and winch the Jeep backwards first, as that would be the only way the Jeep was getting out. Using ropes and raw manpower to hold the Jeep up laterally, Matt started winching the Jeep backwards. He made small digs to clear up dirt where it blocked the Jeep, and carried on.

Matt made a ramp for the sunken rear wheel to grab onto. Afterwards, his team held ropes tied to the roof to keep it as upright as possible while it getting winched backwards.

Eventually, Matt realized getting into the hole was necessary, as sketchy as that seemed. Using a shovel, he made a dirt ramp for the rear sunken wheel to clamber up on as it got winched. But the front tire was going to freefall into the pit at some point, so Matt would have to bank on the boys to pull their weight – literally. He also brought two guys onto the opposite side to try and help keep the vehicle upright as it traveled backwards.

In a surprising turn of events, the plan worked, and the only casualty was a crumpled driver’s side front fender and door. “I would have to say, we almost didn’t do that,” confessed Matt. “We had to use two of our three cameramen, and we don’t usually do that.”

“This Jeep is gonna be hanging over the abyss, so to speak,” lamented Matt.

Making his way back to the road, Matt had some more thoughts on the operation. “I think that was the sketchiest recovery we’ve ever done,” he said. “But we got there, got hooked up, kept solving little problems one at a time until the big problem was solved, and now they’re back on their way.”

For such a difficult job, Matt and guys made it look easy when all was said and done. Our hats are off to these guys and we think you should check out more of their recovery adventures on their YouTube channel.

Miraculously, the Jeep made it out in one piece. Well done, guys!

About the author

David Chick

David Chick comes to us ready for adventure. With passions that span clean and fast Corvettes all the way to down and dirty off-road vehicles (just ask him about his dream Jurassic Park Explorer), David's eclectic tastes lend well to his multiple automotive writing passions.
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