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Runaway RV ends up on Epping race track

Union Leader Correspondent

August 25. 2013 9:35PM
Epping police investigate after an RV rolled down a hill and ended up on a dirt bike track at New England Dragway Saturday. (Courtesy)

EPPING — Gregory Rollins was sound asleep in a motor home when the parking brake apparently let go and the camper rolled down a hill, sailed through the air and landed in the middle of a dirt bike race track.

It was a rude awakening for the 64-year-old Rollins, who was sleeping alone in the master bedroom at the back of the 1997 Winnebago Adventurer when it started to roll near the MX 101 race track at New England Dragway around 7:15 a.m. Saturday.

The nearly 40-foot-long RV was parked with other campers at the top of a hill with the front end facing the track where a racing event was held Saturday.

Rollins said he was asleep in the bed in his "birthday suit" and woke up a few seconds after the runaway RV took off down the hill.

At first, Rollins thought someone was behind the wheel.

"It started rolling faster and faster and faster and I was like, 'Whoever is driving this thing doesn't know what they're doing.' I knew automatically something was wrong and I yelled out, 'Hey, slow down!'" Rollins recalled in a phone interview Sunday from his bed at Exeter Hospital, where he's being treated for an injury to his spleen.

The RV, which Rollins doesn't own, traveled 200 to 300 yards down the hill and sideswiped a parked van and a pickup truck along the way.

When the camper barreled over a four-foot jump, Rollins knew he was in for the ride of his life.

"It picked up more speed and things started dropping everywhere," the Wareham, Mass., man said.

As he bounced around in the bedroom, Rollins said the camper eventually dropped 12 feet and came to rest on the dirt bike race track.

The wild ride left Rollins pinned underneath the bed.

"It took some time to get me out of there," he said.

While he's in pain, Rollins is trying to keep his spirits up.

"It was pretty sick," he said of the runaway RV.

Police aren't sure how fast the vehicle was traveling during the wild downhill ride, but, Epping police officer Stephen Soares said, "He was going pretty fast."

Deputy Fire Chief Richard Rodier said Rollins became trapped between the wall and the bed and had to be freed by rescue personnel.

"All we did was lift him up out of the spot he was in and helped him into the living room and loaded him into the ambulance," Rodier said.

The RV is owned by Norman Collins of Abington, Mass. Rollins said he drives the motor home for Collins.

The pickup truck struck by the RV sustained significant damage, but was unoccupied. The owner, Shane Forest, 45, of 13 Green Road, Amherst, was registering for the race with his son at the time of the crash.

The van also was unoccupied and received only minor damage.

"It could have been very serious," Soares said.

Rollins said he wanted to thank those who rushed to his aid.

"They performed like real professionals and I couldn't ask for anybody to handle me better than they did. They were unbelievable," he said.

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