Friday, March 18, 2011

The Irony of Escape

The Irony of Escape
During my career I have introduced some rather spectacular escapes. The Coffin of Death and Death Race were two exciting escapes that featured a high element of danger.
The Coffin of Death was a wooden crate that I was placed into after being handcuffed to the inside. My legs were also shackled to the inside of the crate. The lid was then nailed on and the entire thing was wrapped and tied with heavy rope.
A paper-covered box with a target on the front was placed over the wooden 'coffin'. Off in the distance was a truck that would come barreling towards the coffin at a high rate of speed. It would take 10 seconds for the truck to reach the coffin. If I were not out in time, the truck would slam into the coffin demolishing everything. I had the good fortune to present this on Dick Clark's Live Wednesday TV program and at the Houston Astro-Dome. In addition I did it countless of times LIVE at other events. I always escaped.
The Death Race used the same plot of a speeding vehicle, but this time I was strapped to the outside of another car. I would present the entire thing out in the open in full view, no covering of any kind. The car would take 10 seconds to reach me. I had to get both my hands and feet free before the oncoming vehicle would crush me. This particular escape often compelled viewers to say, "that guy is just plain crazy!"
On the TV Show, Games People Play, the producer thought an accident occurred. As I dove out of the way of the speeding car, my boot, which was hanging from my foot, caught the bumper of the car. It appeared that my whole foot had been ripped off. In reality it was only my boot. The producer was scared senseless that a terrible accident had happened right before his eyes. To his great relief, I was fine. I always escaped.
These type of hair raising, death defying escape stunts were my trademark. Whether standing before an oncoming vehicle, or strapped to the tracks of a high-speed roller coaster, I always escaped. No taped, edited escapes for me, I did my escapes live and usually left people's hearts pounding out of their chests. That's what I did for a living. For more than thirty years I put my life on the line and succeeded. Now for the irony...
On April 1st, 1997 (April Fools Day) I was going through a crosswalk at the grocery store near my home. It was dark and not well lit. As I stepped forward I thought I saw some motion, so instinctively, I planted my right foot and leaned back*. At that very moment, a 1984 Buick, driven not by a stunt driver, but by a 72 year old man, drove over my right foot crushing all the bones. The speed of the car caused my body to twist and the bumper caught my left leg breaking it at the knee.
As it turned out, the 72-year-old driver had borrowed his ex-wife's car. He was driving on a suspended license and had no insurance. Throughout my career I stood before speeding objects and escaped at the last second. On April Fools Day 1997, a car only going 30 miles an hour took me down. How is that for irony!

*I was about to take a step forward, but instead I planted my foot firmly in place. If I had not done that I would have been hit dead-on by the Buick and probably wouldn't be writing this article today. 

1 comment:

  1. Haven't seen you in awhile, glad to see your website is still up and running. Miss your visits at Standing Bear's.
    Stay well and keep in touch!
    Wayne & Sandi