This was our rig, and I was driving. We were headed south on I95 near Palm Coast Florida at about 11:45 on Friday, February 1. The TV was a 2005 Ford/Quigley 4x4 conversion E350 Super Duty van with the 6.0L diesel. Tow rating was 10,000lbs. The trailer was a 2012 Keystone Outback 277RL 34' bumper to ball with a gross of 8600 lbs. The hitch was a Reese Pro Series SC with 10,000 lb bars. We had towed that rig well over 30,000 miles over the last 5 years without problems.
I was cruising at 62 mph (which was the rigs "sweet spot") in the rightmost lane when I feel an unusual vibration. At first I thought it must be the road surface as I95 is pretty rough along that stretch - especially in the truck lane. But this felt different, so I was looking for a good safe place to pull off when the Sh$t hit the fan. The left rear side of the van hit the pavement, which was like locking up one wheel. This caused the van to swerve toward the other lanes, so I steered toward the shoulder. I did not have time to manually actuate the trailer brakes, so the trailer's inertia cause it to swing toward the shoulder. When the trailer tires hit the grass, the trailer "tripped" and started to roll. This knocked the van onto the passenger side, and the van skidded on it's side down the highway. The trailer continued to roll, flipping the van unto it's roof, then popping loose from the hitch and continuing to roll all they way over back onto it's wheels. The safety chains remained attached.
What caused the wheel to come off? In hindsight, I think there was something wrong with the left end of the rear axle, although since the end of the axle hit the pavement it is impossible to determine what it was like before the accident.
100,000 miles and ten years ago the van came to me with aftermarket aluminum wheels and larger tires. About 5 months ago, I noticed the left rear wheel had a cracked spoke. Further investigation revealed that the wheels were not a name brand wheel - but a knock off a a common style. We found an American Racing wheel with the proper size and weight ratings to replace the bad wheel. Cusory inspection of the axle and studs did not reveal any problems, but we were thinking a broken wheel, not a bad axle. The new American Racing wheel was installed using the lugs supplied with the wheel and torqued with a torque wrench. 50 or 75 miles later, I rechecked the lugs with a torque wrench and all were fine.
Fast forward a couple months, and while preparing for our trip south, I again checked the torque on both the trailer and van. (I really am always more concerned about the trailer wheels, but check 'em all while I have the wrench out.) All were OK. My practice while we are on the road is to take the "cross" wrench, and check the trailer and van lugs every couple days or so. I had done this Thursday morning when we left for our second day on the road, but did not check them Friday morning as it was drizzling.
In hindsight, I now think that the original cracked wheel was not the problem, but a symptom of something else wrong with that end of the axle. I guess we will never know for sure.
Thanks for everybody's concern and well wishes. The First Responders and other drivers first on the scene were terrific. Luckily, neither of us or the dogs had any serious injuries, and everything else was insured.
We have purchased a 2018 F250 gasser and a 2014 Wildcat 272RLX fifth wheel, so we will be back on the road soon.
2014 Forest River Wildcat 272RLX fifth wheel
2018 Ford F250 Super Duty 6.2L gasser
Bailey (standard poodle -13yrs) & Zeke (parti poodle-7yrs)