View Single Post
Old 02-15-2010, 11:07 PM
dirk's Avatar
dirk dirk is offline
that WOHVA guy
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: washington
Posts: 734

If you ever wondered what kind of people associate with the WHORE is what Bunk did as a spectator down at the King of the Hammers race last week. I thought of this thread after reading the story.

He was in the right place at the right time & literally saved a life.

Originally Posted by DocRocks on

I'm alive and still kickin today thanks to my new best friend Joe Bunk. This story should be told.

It was a dumb roll, I've done a hundred of them. This one was different though.... I was pinned in the rig upside down and the belts would not release. I looked in the mirror and saw flames on the headers... no big deal. Well the fire grew so fast, suddenly I was in deep ****. I could not get out. I don't know why, but the left side of my harness was jammed and I tried like ****, but I was not able to get free. By this time the flames were coming inside the drivers compartment and I got on the radio and put out a desperate call for help.... I was upside down, on fire and pinned inside. I thought this was it. "car 770, I need help!"... response, "what's wrong", "I'm upside down and on fire!". problem was they were at the next pit and about 10 minutes away. I didn't have 10 minutes. I had less than 30 seconds.

Out of nowhere, here comes Joe Bunk. He was the ONLY one there. He came running down to help and by this time the flames were BIG. I wouldn't have blamed anyone for running away because for all we knew the thing was about to explode. Joe Bunk hang in there with me though and for that he is a true hero. I pulled the halon system handle and it did nothing.... the flames were huge and the tires were on fire and the fire was accelerating. Nothing was going to get it out at this point and I'm still inside. I could feel the heat through my fire suit and I knew I did not have much time left. I threw the fire extinguisher out to him and he tried it with no real affect on the fire. By this time I'm breathing in bad smoke and things are getting desperate. I said "dude" (I never say dude, lol!) " you gotta cut me out of here" he said he didn't have a knife" about this time I remember that I zip tied a leatherman within reach just to my left. I pulled it out and threw it out to him. I said "cut me out" by this time I didn't care if he cut my leg off, I needed out of there! He cut the belts and reached in and pulled me out. I didn't have any control of myself at this point and was just flailing trying to get away from the flames. I fell in a heap just outside the buggy and he said "dude (yea, I know, but I started it), you gotta get away from this thing". He helped me get to a safe distance and I looked back and it was totally engulfed in flames. Literally 10 seconds later. I'm not exaggerating any of this.


He was just a spectator in the right place at the right time to make a difference in my life.

That's the story. Something I would like to think any one of us would do for another wheeler. But I will say Joe stayed there with me when things were really bad and I would not have blamed him for running away to save himself. It is only because he didn't and stayed there risking his own life that I am still here today to tell the story. I owe my life to Joe Bunk and only hope to be able to somehow pay the debt back someday. If Joe ever needs anything he can call me and I'll be there to help. Joe is a reluctant hero and does not even want to acknowledge just how extraordinary this act of true courage is that he displayed. I know though because I was there and I am still here because of it. I look forward to paying back someday. If not to Joe perhaps someone else who is in desperate trouble and needs a hand. We are a family of wheelers and it is good to know there are everyday heros out there. I know one today.

Joe Bunk is a true hero!

Ken "Doc" Mercer ....**** happy to be alive today!

Originally Posted by Avanteone on NWW
Joe, I know you don't feel like a hero, but you are. I know we talked about this down there on the lakebed.... Anybody who was there in that position I feel would have done what you did, but I'm glad it was you, and I'm glad you were in the right spot at the right time. I am glad this is being made a big deal, even if you feel that it's not. You deserve the thank you's you are receiving!

Good job! Your represented all of us well!

FWIW, here's a couple of pics of what was left of Mercer's cars a couple hours later:

Originally Posted by DocRocks on
As for the questions:

Not sure, but we think it was ATF that started the fire. The trans had a slow leak around the pan and was probably leaking ATF that collected on the skid plate throughout the day. The rig was hot from running hard and when I went over it probably dripped on the headers starting the fire. It started out small and grew very quickly. The saftey fuel cell did it's job.

The Halon system was probably not adequate (5 lbs) it was windy and the nozzels fired with the rig upside down. I had one nozzel on the engine and one on me. Next time, I'll probably go with a larger cold fire system with both nozzels on the driver.

The belts were latch and link style and my first time using them. Not sure why they wouldn't open. I'll refrain from further comment on this topic for now.

The knife was a life saving tool. I encourage every driver to have something similar within reach all the time. It was a Gerber multitool and I still have it. It's all that is left.

Happy to answer any and all questions as I can. For now I'm heading over to the airport to get on a plane back to Georgia.

Thanks everyone. My gratitude is greater than I can put into words.

Right now everything tastes a little sweeter and I just want to figure out what to do with the bonus time I'm living on today.


Additional conversation can be found on NWW & Pirate4x4.

Bryan Peterson | WOHVA | PNWJeep | Eldorado Dust Devils

Last edited by dirk; 02-15-2010 at 11:15 PM.
Reply With Quote