Crimea accident. (2002)

Our rout: Moscow- Tula – Orel - Kursk – Belgorod - Russian - Ukrainian border – Kharkov – Dnepropetrovsk – Zaporozh’e – Melitopol – Jankoy – Simferopol. We returned home the same rout.

    We started our Crimea trip at August 15th 2002. But time for start was chosen wrong. We could start only at 11 a.m. There were several causes for such beginning. So long as we returned from 4.500 km trip along Russian North-West - it was needed to check our car. But mechanic could do that only at August 15th. So, we began our car travel at the time of traffic. The Moscow Ring Highway was too busy and we had drive 40 km during an hour and a half.
    Situation became better after we left Moscow Ring Highway. And I drove very fast by our little car until reaching town Tula. Road became narrow after Tula and had only one stripe in each direction. So I had to overtake heavy lorries and long vehicles. The speed of our car was from 90 to 110 km/h. It is a very good speed for such car as I have. The worse road was in Kursk region, but it was better than we had read about it before travel. May be, it was too bad for owners big foreign cars such as FORD or MERCEDES. (Smile) The weather was hot and dry during we were passing Tula, Orel and Kursk regions. We saw several big fires in the fields at Orel and Kursk regions. And grass was like as autumn one.
The highway became better and wider when we arrived to Belgorod region. But weather changed to rainy one. There were many people there who sold fruits (mostly apples) along the highway. They sold apples by buckets and didn’t agree to sell couple of kilograms. We were lucky and bought some apples from old woman. Then we had a short stop at the highway café where we had some meal. Rain was very hard there. It is need to say that summer of 2002 was very dry in the middle part of Russia. But our South had too much rains and another weather disasters, such as hurricanes, floods and tornados.
Natalie (my wife) had arranged matters about our lodging for a night at a hostel in the settlement, which is situated close to Russian-Ukrainian border. But we had to spend too much time to find this settlement and hostel and it. By some reasons we decided to start from there at 2-3 a.m. First reason was that there would be a few cars to pass custom. Another one was wish to pass most part of Ukraine’s territory at the night time, because there are many people along the highways there who want get our money by any means. Of course, they haven’t any right to do that and exist only because the authorities make a show of they are not exist.
Night was uneasy because of the strong rain and several drunken and noisy companies, which were passing near our hostel.
So, we started at two and a quarter a.m. After a half of hour we were at the custom, where I lost some time trying to understand where we must going. And five or six car overtook us. Russian frontier guards and custom officers check our documents very fast. But turn between the Russian side and Ukraine’s one was very long. After about a half of hour waiting we reached Ukraine’s custom. There were not any troubles to pass it. We filled some form about our car (we must return it to Russia in two months). Custom officer check a little our car and asked how much money we have.
   After passing the Custom Zone we were stopped by some uniformed man. He said that he is insurance agent and invited me to one of the great numbers of cabins, which stood there. It was one of the means to get our money for nothing. I had to remember all I had read on special Internet sites and resolutely refused to buy any insurance there.
    Next uniformed man, who wanted to stop us, was a cars washer. We slowly passed him and drive further. We met very many of those impostors during our driving through the Ukraine. We didn’t stop but it was a very nervous fight, because they uniform was very like road police one end they tried to stop car jumping about to its front. By the way, I heard some tale about people who paid money for nothing in each point and returned home after third or fourth one as they count that air travel to Turkey or Spain will be cheaper. (Smile)
I was very tired of such road and was about sleepy. Mike (my son) changed me sometimes by short time when I had a rest and drank coffee. We stopped only once at Kheson’s region – to buy cheap melons. There were not imposters further and we reached the Crimea peninsula soon. We passed the road police stop-point and saw Sivash – bay which was like as mirror. The withered sea salt lay on its shore.
Next stop was in town Jankoy – big railways’ nod of Crimea. The weather was becoming bad and we were seeing the bearing tornado on the edge of great and very black cloud. Thank heavens it died before it was born. But a great rain had fallen from that cloud. We waited for it ending in the restaurant where we had a dinner. It was falling during twenty minutes.
    The road was dry after we passed Jankoy, because rain went as narrow strip. Natalie offered to have a night rest in some place where relatives of her colleague live. I refused and had made a great mistake.

I was driving through Ukraine in accordance to road signs and didn’t exceed the speed of my car. Rain had begun in several kilometers before Simferopol, Crimea capital. When we were passing the settlement Molodezhnoe I drove with 50 km/h speed in accordance with road sign. I was too tired yet. Road run down and I saw the just stopped car near the pedestrian crossing. There was enough distance to that car and I did not agitate. I simply pressed the brakes. Because I were driving with 90-110 km/h during long time before, I seemed that 40 km/h is not too fast. I was sure that it was enough distance to stop my car. After I saw that another car had became too close I made the last mistake – I had pressed brakes stronger. Car become as a skater on ice and it hit stopped car. Then cars was like as billiards balls – stopped car run fifteen meters further and my one stopped and turned on 70 degrees.  I had gotten some kind of nervous shock.
Thank havens no one suffered from accident. Then I left car and went towards troubles. My car was hit too hard – it couldn’t run it self because it’s left front wheel was clutched by broken metal.  I only was able to make a call to my insurance agent. Real hero of situation was Natalie. She was treating with another party and road police patrol. I had to take my driver’s license to policemen and pay money to owner of suffered car (SUBARU). After all things were set SUBARU driver called the lorry with trailer, which had gotten my car to workshop where was made first repair. Then we made a call to family to whom we were going. Then that man come to us on his car and towed us to parking. Then we arrived to Malorechenskoe. I dank about 150 g vodka, but it didn’t have any affect. In ordinary time it would be the giant dose for me.
Therefore we had to reduce our vacations from 15 to 10 days. I spent in Simferopol three days, setting the repair in workshop and going along the car markets. Journeys from Malorechenskoe to Simferopol were too expensive for our income – from $3 to $12. Fuel here costs about 150 percent in compare with Russian prices and brakes wear out faster because of driving along mountains road.
And repair cost me $135 (more than seven per cents from cost of the car). Full one would cost more than $350 on Ukraine, but I shall get the insurance in Russia and repair was not total – only for opportunity to return home. My car was repaired in a week and was prepared at Friday. I bought the dye-spray and cover the broken places with dye. Also I bought and set headlights instead broken ones. I left my car in Simferopol until Monday when we started returning home.
We started at early Monday morning from Simferopol. There was additional day off because of Ukrainian holiday.  We were lucky – there were not many lorries and another cars on the road. I was without driver’s license, only with temporary driver’s permission. It was the case to stop us by Ukrainian road police after Melitopol and demand some money from me. After that Mike sat as driver and he was driving until town Zaporozhe. Then we changed again.
There were not any problems at the customs and border guards. We had to pay about $10 for Ukraine’s road tax. Mike was driving through the custom zone because I was not sure that I could pass it without driver license. But nobody from officials didn’t ask me about it. I simply showed my passport and returned paper, which confirmed returning my car to Russia. Some time later we was at the Russian border. Here we showed our passports twice and answered the questions what we have in the car.
    We stayed for night in the same place where we stayed on the way to Crimea. We had a good sleeping and started from Belgorod at six and a half a.m. There were any problems with our car and road police in Russia. We didn’t drive very fast and were stopping to rest and having a meal. But when we were opposite our home the road policeman stopped us. There were only forty meters to our house. I never saw policemen at that place before. But I learnt from him that I could drive along the Russia with Ukrainian permission. I believed that all ended well only after I came into our flat.
    Three weeks later I went to Simferopol by train and got my license from Simferopol court. Of course, I had to pay some penalty. Then I returned home, got my insurance money and repaired my car. Crimean adventure was ended enough successfully.