Dream Motor Home Vacation Ends in Unimaginable Loss for Mom of 12

steering wheel'Tis the time of year when plans for big family vacations are kicked into high gear. But a horrific motor home tragedy on a highway in Kansas this past weekend is a sad warning that a favorite for family road trips isn't always the best thing for a family. The Kerbers already lost their patriarch just five years ago, and now five more members of the family are dead.

Pauline Kerber is now mourning four of her children and a daughter in-law, while she and 12 other people in her freightliner motor home are in a hospital. Some of the widow's family, including many of her 12 children, were listed in critical condition. Such a horrific tragedy ... and all because the gigantic motor home they used to transport 18 family members home from a motocross race was in an accident.


Giant family road trips are as American as baseball and apple pie. And it seems like everyone has that dream of one day affording an RV so they can take off and see the country. But those things scare the pants off of me, and the Kerbers' accident is a prime example.

The cause of the accident, which ended with the huge motor home flipping off a bridge and into a ravine, is still under investigation. I don't know the Kerbers' situation, and I'm not going to cast aspersions here. They may have had plenty of experience and used all the right precautions. But that doesn't mean we can't try to learn from what happened and make other people's trips safer.

Police say 17-year-old Adam Kerber, one of Pauline's surviving kids, was driving. Maybe he was an experienced driver, or maybe he was like way too many Americans who buy one of these vehicles and thinks, "Oh, sure I can drive that!" If you're going to buy a motor home, for goodness' sakes, invest in a driver course and check in with your state's DMV. Certain states actually require a different kind of driver's license to take the wheel of something this big because it's not as easy as hitting the brake and the gas. 

I'm also betting the police will be spending a fair amount of time trying to figure out how many people in the Kerber's vehicle were wearing seatbelts. Again, I'm not saying the family did anything wrong. But seatbelt laws for RVs vary from state to state. In Kansas, it seems they require only the people in the front seat wear them, and people ages 4 to 14 be belted in in the back seat. Technically that means at least two of the deceased were legally allowed to go without a seatbelt, as were many of the injured. But "legal" doesn't always mean safe, and I happen to know more than a few RV folks ignore them completely because they can't be seen by the cops through the walls of the RV. Scary, huh? Please let this be a warning to you NOT to be one of those people.

My heart breaks for the Kerber family today, to have something as special and wonderful as a family vacation end in such tragedy.

How do you feel about vacationing in a motor home? Ever done it?


Image via jonas_foyn/Flickr

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