Lucky honeymooners survive a wild plunge off Pikes Peak Pair, 75 and 64, accidentally drove over edge

June 15, 1993|By Erin Emery | Erin Emery,Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Sometimes, love is a wild plunge.

Just ask newlyweds Joe and Colleen Rhine. Last Wednesday, they accidentally drove off Pikes Peak. He's 75; she's 64.

At 2 p.m. June 5, they tied the knot in Tulsa, Okla. That night, they drove to Wichita, Kan., and stayed in a honeymoon suite that took Joe more than 10 phone calls to find.

"The bed sheets were turned down. There were cookies on the pillows. Champagne was on ice. There was a spa in the room. They served breakfast in bed," said Mrs. Rhine. The next day, they drove their 1992 Toyota Camry to Manitou Springs, Colo. They went to the Royal Gorge one day, Cripple Creek the next.

On Wednesday, they drove to the 14,110-foot summit of Pikes Peak. It was early afternoon when they headed down. Mr. Rhine was driving and his wife thought he looked odd. She touched his arm and asked if he was OK.

"I'm fine," Mr. Rhine said.

Moments later, "we were flying through the air. We saw the boulders and everything below us," Mrs. Rhine said. "You just can't imagine.

"We both were awake with it -- every boulder we hit, every tree we hit. Mr. Rhine was saying, 'Oh, my Lord. Oh, my Lord.' It'd just jar you to pieces every time we hit."

Officials believe Mr. Rhine probably blacked out momentarily just before the accident.

"The air was so thin up there, I didn't get all my oxygen," Mr. Rhine said.

The car landed on its nose, 150 feet down the mountain. The engine, which had 10,000 miles on it, was still running. Mrs. Rhine put the car in park and turned off the key. She got her purse and walked up to the road with two men who came to help her.

Lucky for the Rhines, Bob Wachsman of Alliance, Ohio, saw the accident.

"That car went over the bank and completely out of sight -- just like that. It disappeared," said Mr. Wachsman.

Mrs. Rhine was admitted to St. Francis Hospital in Colorado Springs with a chipped neck bone, bruised spleen, lacerated liver and bruised ribs from where the seat belt grabbed hold of her. She's in satisfactory condition. Her husband, who also had his seat belt on, was not admitted, but he has back pain.

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