Words by Alan Wagner | As Told By Gunner

I was traveling in Kansas with my wife and five kids in our Mercedes Sprinter van one evening when everything went down. I’m a state trooper so I know the road pretty well, but there was nothing we could do about this particular situation. 

A southbound vehicle pulling a gooseneck trailer on the interstate lost its whole tire-axle-hub assembly. That entire thing jumped the concrete barrier, right into our lane. We were headed northbound and it hit us dead on. It was very dark, and this came out of nowhere – I barely had time to yell “hang on!” to my six other family members (and dog) in the car.

The impact broke the van’s steer axle and triggered the airbags. With no axle to steer, we slammed straight into the concrete barrier and rode that median, which eventually pulled the vehicle onto the driver’s slide. From there it was like sledding on ice. We cleared the shoulder and ended up in a ditch.

Everybody in my family was okay without major injuries; thank goodness for car seats and seatbelts or it absolutely would’ve been a different story. I remember thinking that I could hear all the kids screaming, which was a good thing because it meant they were alive!

The vehicle was totaled, and as you can imagine the whole thing surreal. The reason I originally wrote the review that said the kennel might’ve saved my daughter from harm – and for sure saved my dog – is this: 

We have the G1™ Medium for our Australian Shepherd-heeler mix, Wyoming. She’s a cow dog (we raise cattle on our farm), but definitely the family pet too. Funny story about how I got her a Gunner in the first place, but I’ll explain more on that below.

When we travel in the Sprinter van, we situate the crate in the cabin. At the time of the accident the Gunner kennel was sitting in between a set of captain chairs on the passenger side. It’s an important part of the story to note here that the kennel wasn’t tied down (I wasn’t sure where the tie-down points were in this van, you can be sure I’ll look for that first with the next vehicle). This time, that actually factored to my family’s benefit.

When the vehicle overturned and laid on the driver’s side to ride the median, the kennel flew from the right-hand side to the left-hand side. It wedged itself between one of my daughter’s knees (she was in a booster seat) and the direct seat in front of her. Remember that she was sitting on the driver’s side – where the van turned over to ride the median – and there was a very big glass window, which broke in the middle of all this.

The Gunner kennel did two things, I believe:

1) This is a very top heavy vehicle. When it turned over, I could very well see the momentum and gravity to cause her to slip out of her booster seat. The kennel stopped that from happening;
and 2) the crate protected my daughter’s face from the window that shattered right in front of her, and the debris that came in after that. Everyone else got chards of glass in their bodies, their faces – but not her, because the kennel took the full brunt of it. And she was right there at the worst of it.

If our dog had been in a junk crate and not a Gunner kennel, I’m pretty certain it would’ve turned into chards during this accident. If that had happened, well I don’t want to guess at the potential outcomes.

The kennel took the abuse, but my dog is ok. The crate got chewed up a bit but the structural integrity doesn’t seem to be compromised. Even if it hadn’t disintegrated, there’s no way any other crate door would’ve stayed closed. That would mean my dog had been bouncing around the inside of the van with my five kids and wife, either becoming trajectory to harm them or a hazard to itself. So I’m thankful to Gunner.

Back to the funny store on how I heard about the kennel – I mentioned I’m a state trooper. One day several months back, I stopped a vehicle. This guy was a hunter and he had two Gunners in the bed of his truck. I had never seen them before and I asked him about it. He took me back there, showed me what he liked about them. Gotta say I’m pretty glad I stopped that guy that day.

Please note: Gunner recommends strapping down your kennel with our Gunner strength-rated straps 100% of the time.

Read more Gunner Save Stories: “A Car Running From The Police Hit Me At 130MPH

share this story