I sincerely hope everyone reads this ~ really reads it ...


JekylandHyde
05-27-2005, 06:32 AM
As many of you know, I host a page on my Site dedicated to those people who have lost their lives in the MR2. (http://www.jekylhyderacing.com/md.htm)

Many of you are aware that we have lost two lives inside of two different MR2s in the past month and at least one other earlier this year. These are important stories for me personally, since I have been through so many accidents and also for us as a community because there will be more.

The only difference between the following tragic story and my own accidents and some of your accidents, is a few feet, a few seconds ...

Over the past few years I have received many e-mails from survivors, parents and friends of those stories on my pages (I also have a page on street racing deaths).

I always ask permission to share the personal side of the story, but it is usually declined. Tonight, a very brave young man has given me permission to share his story. I sincerely hope the community receives his words well. This is a time to feel and to learn, not to critique.

This is the e-mail I received last night:

I wanted to write to thank you for the work you've done to maintain
this page and relate my story. I've tried to be an active member of
the MR2 community for the last few months I owned my car, spending
more time on mr2oc.com than I spend at school probably, I'll admit.

My name is Kevin Stich, I was the driver in the crash involving
Samantha Hopper that you have posted on your page. It was actually my
dad who showed me that you had listed the accident on your page, but I
had found it before. Perhaps a week and a half before the crash I
stumbled on that section of your webpage. I read over the stories and
quite a few of them hit really close to home, but a part of my brain
still though that the people I read about were somehow different than
me.

I loved Samantha, seriously, and I don't say that lightly. She was the
only girl I'd ever met who I thought I might be able to spend my life
with. She was everything I had ever wanted and dreamed of, smart,
beautiful, funny, and she loved cars :) . The first time we ever hung
out was when I went to show her my MR2, and she was quite impressed.
She loved that car, probably as much as I did, and we spent a lot of
time in it. She came with me to every AutoX I ran (rain or shine), and
tagged along in the car whenever she could. I loved having her there,
and believe it or not usually dropped my time by several seconds
whenever she was co-pilot. Life was great, I had everything I wanted.
The car I'd always dreamed of, the girl I always dreamed of, finishing
up the school year strong, track season coming to a close, everything
was great. I was on top of the world.

I don't remember much of what happened before the accident, I don't
even know how fast I was going. I had never been down the road before
and was initially quite cautious, but soon saw that the road was well
marked and well maintained and felt fairly confident on the road.
After a few miles out that stretch the jurisdiction on the road
switches from the city to the local county. This is about a third of a
mile from the tresses, from what I understand. The smooth recently
paved asphalt is suddenly changes, the road hasn't been repaved in at
least twenty years and it shows its wear. The regulations for signage
suddenly change, and even then that turn isn't marked as the laws
require. Whereas a 45 MPH recommended speed only a mile back meant
easily 95 (which is significantly faster than I was driving) the 15
MPH sign for that turn means 10 MPH, 15 if you're feeling bold. These
are things that I learned in the weeks since the accident. The single
frame shown in that newspaper article depict a quite harrowing stretch
of road, but in actuality until that exact turn, the road is
everything any driver would ever dream for. The estimate I've most
heard is that I was going 35-40 MPH absolute max.

I was driving dangerously that night, obvious in hindsight, but not
incredibly so. I always drove my MR2 with respect. I was aware of my
limits and uneasy with feeling out the limits of the car without a
wide safety margin. My friends made fun of me on more than one
occasion for how slow I drove, but I didn't care because I knew it
wasn't worth taking a risk. I came on that blind turn, following the
signs the same way I always would have, and didn't pull through. Some
exact combination of factors, the dark moonless night, my
unfamiliarity with the road, the misplaced signage, all led to what
happened. I wasn't out to prove anything, I wasn't trying to push any
limits, I was just trying to get me and my girlfriend to prom. I came
up on the turn, couldn't see the road because of the tresses and so I
tried to slow down as much as I could. When I saw the road I knew the
situation was bad, I tried to pick a line and follow up it but
panicked and braked further and then started to slide on a patch of
loose gravel and lost control. The whole situation is strange, because
I always drove extra carefully at night, and when I was on country
roads, and I was always particularly careful when I drove with a
passenger. Probably if I drove through there under the exact same
conditions 100 times I would only crash once. If i lived over the
whole night 100 times I probably would have only gone down that road
twice. But I did go down that road and I did crash. Of all the crazy
things I've ever done in a car that was far from the craziest, and I'd
only ever once even squealed my tires on a public road.

There are a thousand lessons I've learned from this incident, be
careful on unfamiliar roads, slow down at night, but the most poignant
has been that no one is immune to tragedy. There is no fundamental
difference between those who fate chooses and those it passes over.
I'm graduating as valedictorian on June 10th, I'm treasurer of the
Honors Society, I ran Varsity Track and Cross Country, I as an intern
for the Oregon Department of Human Services doing web development. I'm
attending Oregon State University this fall, and I have an open
invitation from Cornell to transfer whenever I want. I potentially
could have gone to UCLA, USC, Carnegie Mellon, or a half dozen other
schools but couldn't bear the thought going so far from Samantha. I
don't drink or smoke, I don't cheat on my math tests, and I'd never
gotten a ticket. I'm not a bad kid, but I still made a mistake and pay
a heavy price for it. It can happen to anyone, period.

I have some pictures of the car if you want to put them on the page. I
know seeing it made me come to a lot of realizations, and maybe it
might do the same for others.

Musashi3000GT
05-27-2005, 09:55 AM
Thats very sad, I still dont get it though, how she died I mean. the article says "fatal wound" but that dosent explain much. How fast was he going? In his reply he says estimated 40-45 mph but thats dosent sound like a very strong crash. Do you have pics of the car?

CivRacer95
05-27-2005, 09:57 AM
That is quite the tragic story. I took the time to read the story on your website as well.

To Kevin:
It is very true that fate chooses whomever it may please. There is nothing you can do. I'm sorry about your loss. Although, there is nothing that can be done. As you described, Samantha seemed to be the choice girl that most here could only dream to meet. I don't know how I would be able to cope with such a loss. You are a lucky man for ever knowing a young lady such as her. Be greatful that you shared those times with her, and be even more greatful for ever getting to know her. I wish you the best of luck in life and for Samantha, may she rest in peace.

JekylandHyde
05-27-2005, 10:12 AM
I have exchanged more e-mails with him and he is going to try to get photos to me of the car.

This was an MR2 Spyder (converitble).
Although 40-45 does not seem like much, have you ever lost it at an autocross at that speed? That is plenty for a fatal impact.

Accidents are a strange dynamic, a lot of things could have happened. :(

Musashi3000GT
05-27-2005, 10:30 AM
Ive crashed at those speeds and even higher but yes you are absolutely right, in an accident anything can happen. Its just so sad man, I cant imagine the feeling of having something like that happen. Its terrible.
What year was the MR2? the SW20 like ones you have is preaty thick, the newest model is a bit more flimsy, I have never been in a AW11 so I dont know how strong they are.
I guess I just feel like its not fair, I hit a tree at about 60 mph in my SRT-4. I lost control at about 85 and travelled about 45 feet then wrapped it around the tree on my side. all I kept thinking after I read the esstimated 40 mph is "its not freaking fair how someone so young and full of such promise can go in such a way". Scum like me survive even worst and a 40 mph collision kills her. thats why I was asking the nature of the injury.
I knew a guy about 8 years ago, his car was hit by a minivan at about 25mph, the van t-boned him on the driver side, he had a screw driver on the side of the door and it jammed into his side and perforated the liver, killed him 4 days later.
so yeah this thing do happen but they are very hard to accept. Like that Iron Maiden song goes, "only the good die young".

JekylandHyde
05-27-2005, 10:36 AM
Did you see her photo? .... so beautiful, such a loss.
They both seem like such really good people.
I can't imagine what Kevin has gone through since the accident.

As for how the MR2s are constructed, there is a lot of steel in them (at least the SW20s). That's why they weigh so much (almost 3000 lbs). I can't speak for the Spyders as I have no experience.

I have wrecked badly many times in the MK1s and the MK2s though and they hold up well. I suspect a lot of you have seen the in-car video of my friend Fabio rolling his MK2 at 110 mph at the hill climb event :(

mason_RsX
05-27-2005, 10:48 AM
Damn...thats a terrible situation, I can't begin to imagine how he must feel, words im sure can't describe it...I've never been in an accident, but I have been pretty close to a few major accidents on stupid things that I know better not to do...Give Kevin my condolences and let him know there always AF in case hes got a few other lessons he wants to teach

clawhammer
05-27-2005, 11:26 AM
That must suck for him. So he was going in a 15 mph corner at 35-40, skidded, and hit what?

JekylandHyde
05-27-2005, 01:00 PM
The trusses of a bridge apparently.
If you look at the news artcile on my Web site, there are photos. (not of the car yet).

He has explained in a 2nd e-mail that their is a pending lawsuit against the county for having that section of the road porrly marked.

CassiesMan
05-27-2005, 01:10 PM
Before I comment in any great length or detail...was he or was he not speeding, I can't really tell from what he wrote?

Cyprus106
05-27-2005, 01:15 PM
My condolences. I've visited that part of your site a few times. Must be kind of hard to maintain, dealing with the people who were directly affected. The story about the man that kidnapped, raped, and killed the girl for her car still sticks with me. It's far too bad that this tragedy had to happen. I know this destroyed more than just one life. Thank you for the insight, Jek. You're a good man.

JekylandHyde
05-27-2005, 01:26 PM
CassiesMan, my understanding is that he was within 5-10 mph of the posted limit, but he came upon a much slower curve that was poorly marked.

It's a mistake any of us could have made. I know I have done worse, but was much luckier.

The thing to remember here is that anything can happen, no matter how in control you think you are.

Two summers ago I was traveling on a road that I know very well and was banging out some turns at a healthy rate. For god knows what reason, I overly slowed down for a particularly hard curve ... as I came around the turn I was confronted with a HUGE dumptruck stuck in the middle of the road. If I would have been at my previous pace I would have had a severe collision.

A friend of mine, entered an "auto ramp" on a highway in Italy a few years ago on his motorcylce. The auto ramps are strictly for cars and bikes only.
Unfortunately, an 18-wheeler had tried to enter it and got stuck on a cure that was way too shapr for the truck ... my friend collided with the back of the truck and shortened one of his vertebrea :(

Anything can happen ...

chevytrucks92
05-27-2005, 10:06 PM
Well its always a bad lick when someone gets seriously hurt or killed in a car accident. I'm sure he's wished a million times over that it would have been him and not her killed (I know I would). But, I've always believed that when your number comes up, then thats that. No matter if you're flying down a stretch of road or setting on the couch, when its your time nothing can save ya.

And just from reading his email to you (haven't visited your site), it sounds like one of those freak things, and you know, its always those freak 1 in a million incidents that get ya. Its always those wrecks that dont necessarly look bad that are the worse (remember Dale Earnhardt's fatal accident at Daytona??).

Anyways, these things happen and its always very sad but that's just part of life I reckon. Judging from his email to you, he seems to "get it" that when its your time its your time. I know for me, that would be the only thing that would help get me through something like that.

speedthrill
05-28-2005, 08:11 AM
That story slapped me in the face and strikes me right in my hart. This is truely sad. It happens to the best of us. As this story proves. May Samantha rest in peace, and you Kevin. Try to live yr life as good as you can, you have done nothing wrong. These are just typical, wrong place at the wrong time things. It's not ment to be but it happens anyway.
This is one of them i will never forget.

spaminator
05-31-2005, 08:26 PM
This story reminds me of a very nearly fatal accident i was involved in with my fiance in the passenger seat. A 91 suburban ran a red light at 55 while i was turning left. I saw them at the last minute and hit the gas but i was in an exploder. I looked at the car afterwards and if the suburban would have hit an inch or two closer to the front of the car it would have definently killed megan and probably me too. That shook me up real bad for about a week or two. Anyways the point of my story is that i know the situation and i really feel for you. My condolences.

-The Stig-
05-31-2005, 09:01 PM
sorry for the kid... aways bad when anybody gets hurt in a car doing anything...

:(

youngvr4
06-01-2005, 02:56 AM
i lost a friend do to speeding :disappoin flew out the window, no seatbelt just this last august. he died on the scene, flew off a bridge came to a complete stop and flew out. his eye came out his socket :disappoin

javon R.I.P

samantha R.I.P

drftk1d
06-01-2005, 08:12 PM
zomg when i looked at the pics i got bothered. like shook, scared whatever. cause i frequent roads like that often.

my condolences to whomever lost their lives driving

VirusxXx
06-06-2005, 07:49 PM
I appreciate everyone's thoughts.

I'll just throw out some stuff that i've found out since i wrote the letter and that i wasn't clear on in it. I apologize for any spelling mistakes or anything, today's been pretty rough.

The car was a 91 Turbo... we likely would have both walked away fine but the car slid into the trestle and hit the at about the front right quarter panel and then pivoted around and hit the passenger side. Sam recieved a massive head injury from the side inpact, I don't know what she hit her head on...

There was an accident report, but I haven't been able to get ahold of it. I have no recollection of how fast I was going... I would assume if I had seen the 15 mph sign I would have been aiming for 35/40 mph at most, but the way it was previously marked it wasn't very hard to miss the sign at night. Coming out of the previous turn I might have been going 60-65 ish. I would imagine I would have slowed down from that since I couldn't really see what the turn was doing up ahead. the 35-40 I listed was an estimate i had gotten from other people, I don't know anything about these things, its the first accident I'd ever been involved in. I sent some pictures to Jekyl, maybe someone could give a better estimate. I know the absolute fastest I went on that road was 80, and that was on a long long straight away. I am very confident that I wasn't going anything over 60. Someone told me the speed limit through there is 35, though when i went back the only posted sign I saw was for 45. I wasn't really scoping for signs though.

Looking at the crash site I'm pretty sure that it happened something like this. I came up and started into the turn before seeing the trestles. I paniced when I saw the trestle come up and how the road curved, and started trying to slow down as much as I could, mistake i know, but I mean, everything goes so fast. So I was in the middle of the turn, braking moderately, careful not to lock the tires, and then the road surface changed from the nice smooth asphalt that was repaved last year to the old stuff under the counties jurisdiction. I was already in the turn, it didn't get any sharper at the point I lost it, if not for the surface change I WOULD have made it through. I locked the front tires for a split second about a foot after the transition and then the right side went off into the gravel and it was basically game over. Went off the road and caught the edge of trestle. Another 3 or 4 feet to the right, if i'd lost control a tenth of a second sooner, and we would have caught the edge of the trestle right on the front left quarter and the car would have slid down this gravel road into some bushes. We would have both walked away. Probably if i'd gone into the turn 3 or 4 miles an hour slower my mistake wouldn't have resulted in me losing control, and probably 10 miles an hour slower we could have crashed the exact same way and everything would have been fine.

*Sigh*

It's rough, I hope someone can take something away from it

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