Don Bell was cruising down a rural county road near Burleston, TX, just south of Ft Worth, listening to an audiobook in his 2015 Roadtrek 190 Popular Anniversary Edition, on his way to his Grand Prairie, TX home from New Mexico. He was going about 45 miles and hour.
Then, in the blink of an eye, it happened. A pickup driver pulled out in front of him. Bell slammed on the brakes but it was too late. His dash cam captured the crash.
“I had the Windshield Witness unit you recommended on your blog,” he wrote me the day after the crash. “It captured my absolute innocence in the accident — showing that the pickup truck driver simply pulled from a dead stop at a stop sign out into my ongoing lane of traffic! Thank you for your blog, for many reasons, your dash cam recommendation among them.”
Here, watch for yourself. Below is the crash video.
Neither Bell nor the driver of the truck were injured. He says the insurance adjuster indicated his RV will likely be totaled as there was extensive engine damage.
“The police (Tarrant County Sheriff’s department) came upon the scene within about two minutes after the collision, during a normal patrol.” he notes. “The police cited the pickup driver for failing to yield to oncoming traffic.”
He has advised both the police and his insurance company that his Windshield Witness dash cam captured exactly what happened.
That’s a great story in and of itself, another example why I think we should all have a dash cam like the Windshield Witness.
But, as it turns out, there is so much more to this story. Don Bell is one of the most inspirational Roadtrekers I have ever encountered. Please read on for his story.
First, where he was coming that day.
“I was returning from a weeklong trip in northern New Mexico to celebrate the 50 years of love my wife and I shared. She died last month from the complications of our 10-years struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease. It was a glorious trip such that this accident, in the scheme of things, was just a little unpleasant blip.”
But there’s more.
“I intended to retire about 10 years ago (at age 61) from my modest oil & gas exploration and development proprietorship,” he recounts. “But some of the debilitating symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease affecting my wife’s quality of life and my spousal responsibilities began showing up.
“We had intended to retire onto a sailboat. Sherrill and I organized our finances such that a sailing retirement could have been lived had health circumstances permitted. Instead, I knew that we had a very expensive medical future to manage. I realized that I needed an additional $6,000 a month, month-after-month, year-after-year, for an unknown duration for medical care — with no long-term care insurance — and that fact required an immediate change of plans!
“The oil & gas exploration business I knew best is very complicated, time-consuming, requires long periods away and is financially risky. I needed to find a sound business which was not mentally demanding, and also would permit time to care for Sherrill and to enjoy our love as best we could. I began selling pencils and pencil sharpeners as an Amazon professional merchant — still do.
“Two years ago I moved Sherrill to an assisted living facility because I could no longer safely and effectively manage her life on my own in our home. I moved nearby the facility so I could be with her. The disease, however, progressed to the point we needed a much more personal kind of care by uniquely trained professionals, particularly because she ceased knowing me and our relationship.
“I moved her to a wonderful facility offering and actually delivering exceptional care for persons with dementia. I purchased the Roadtrek so that I could live in the facility’s parking lot as needed and useful — to be with her as much as possible and to be her ever-present friend and advocate — and potentially as a future 4-wheel ‘sailboat.’
“The whole experience, to the end, gave me an opportunity to love Sherrill in ways I never imagined and she reciprocated as her mind allowed in many amazingly tender moments. Despite the disease, the intensity of our lives together this past ten years has been wonderful.
“Having lived full time in the Roadtrek for a year convinced me that it could be a good life and so I have decided to live it. I still intend to sail, but look forward to land-based experiences. Once my Roadtrek is repaired or replaced, I’ll be taking to the road doing as you suggest in your blog.”
Amazing, story, huh? Amazing guy.
I had one more question. It was about the audiobook he was listening to at the time of the crash. Turns out, there’s a story there, too, and some more inspiration.
“I am listening to a lecture purchased through Amazon’s Audible program called: ‘At The Edge of Uncertainty: Discoveries Taking Science By Surprise’ by Michael Brooks,” says Bell. “The audible books are on my iPhone. I tend to emphasize lectures in science and humanities with a particular emphasis on areas I know nothing about and/or have not kept up with as knowledge and discoveries advance. At 71, much of what I learned from high school and college studies I have either forgotten or the fields of knowledge have been supplemented by more recent discoveries and analyses.
“I listen to a wide variety of formal lectures and non-fiction books because I am interested in the subject matter, but also so that I have at least a conversational knowledge of about any subject a person I meet cares to discuss. Many friendships fell away over the past ten years, but I like people and their stories and experiences, thus I’m hopeful I’ll be a good conversationalist and make new friends throughout my RV travels and lifestyle.”
Don Bell, you are an inspiration to all of us. I look forward to meeting you in person on the road, as I am sure, will everyone else who reads this.
May God Bless you.
And for the others who read this, go to https://rvlifestyle.com/windshieldwitness to see the dash cam Don has