Arizona Couple Somehow Survives Rolling Jeep Wrangler Down 80-Foot Cliff

The husband and wife reportedly walked for two hours before finding help and being airlifted to a Scottsdale hospital.

byChris Tsui|
Jeep News photo


A husband and wife from Glendale, Arizona are lucky to be alive after tumbling down an 80-foot cliff in their Jeep Wrangler last Thursday. 

According to AZfamily, Shanelle Bates and Matthew Kunowski rented a cabin in the Tonto National Forest north of Lake Roosevelt and planned to have a relaxing long weekend with their dog. On a shopping trip for supplies, the couple drove their lifted Wrangler Rubicon up Forest Service Road 512. On the way back, however, disaster struck. It isn't completely clear how it happened but Bates says her husband was driving on the dark, dirt road when he "looked away for a split second." Next thing she knew, the Jeep was rolling down the cliff.

"I've had that dream since I was a little girl, falling off a cliff like that. And when it starts to happen, I couldn't tell if it was real," Bates said. "I thought I was dreaming again."

Bates reportedly passed out for a short time after the Jeep came to a rest. When she regained consciousness, she was still inside the Wrangler but realized her husband had been thrown out of the vehicle. She crawled through the Jeep's windshield and found Kunowski who had been badly injured. The couple apparently walked for two hours before reaching a cabin where help was found. Both were then airlifted to a hospital in Scottsdale. 

Needless to say, the fact that Bates and Kunowski even lived to tell this tale is nothing short of a miracle—especially when you consider the Jeep Wrangler's less-than-stellar safety rating.

While Bates was released from the hospital over the weekend, her husband will require a lot more medical attention.

"His jaw is broken...both his cheekbones are cracked and his ribs are broken," Kunowski's wife said. "His face is wired shut, however, he's able to walk around and he can communicate with notes."

A GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $10,000 has been started to help pay the couple's medical bills. According to the campaign page, both Bates and Kunowski work for the United States Postal Service and live with five children between them—ranging from age five to 18—as well as a five-month-old grandchild.

Jeep NewsNews by Brand