Here at Jayco, we take great pride in the RVs we make. Our skilled laborers work hard to ensure our units leave the factories built strong, with the best quality and meet the criteria we have set forth. We ship hundreds of RVs from our factories, but seldom hear about where they end up or how they are being enjoyed. This is a story of one of our RVs and the journey it took after leaving Jayco that led to survival and triumph in the face of tragedy.
In 2017, Michael Jarvi and his wife decided to purchase an RV. They went to an RV and boat show one town over from where they lived and started looking around. “My wife Ashley was pregnant with our daughter at the time. We went to the RV center, which sells Jayco's, and we saw it. The perfect camper for our needs. A Jayco Jay Flight SLX174BH.”
Michael said it was the perfect RV for his family and they loved it. They took their Jay Flight on many family trips. Their daughter spent her first night it the camper at only 2 months old. “My wife and I even celebrated a wedding anniversary in our Jayco 174BH. I didn't know it was possible, but our camper was almost part of our family.” Needless to say, this family loved the RV lifestyle.
A turn of events happened on May 25, 2019. On the 24th, the family packed up their truck, hooked up their Jayco RV to the hitch and hit the road for Memorial Day weekend. Destination: Van Riper State Park, located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The family settled into campsite 119 at the campground for what they expected to be a relaxing weekend.
“The next morning, we woke up made pancakes, took our daughter to the park, and soon found ourselves back at the camper. Our daughter Isabelle was sleepy and soon fell asleep. We put her in the camper in the bottom bunk bed to sleep,” says Michael. This is where the story of our Jayco camper takes an unexpected turn.
“As I sat by the fire reading my book, my wife Ashley commented that a large pine tree was swaying very hard in the rapidly increasing wind.” Michael saw the tree but recalls it was green, wide and healthy looking. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is not known for its mild weather so Michael figured this tree had survived this long, it would be fine. “My wife said to me 'that tree is swaying really badly. Should I get Izzy?' I said to her 'she is fine, that tree has been there for 50 years and if last winter didn't take it down, then nothing will.'”
Michael’s wife went into the camper to check on their little girl and that’s when it happened. A very strong gust hit. Michal recalled hearing a loud bang like a shotgun blast. He looked back and in horror saw the pine tree falling right towards the family's Jayco Jay Flight 174BH. Michael screamed his wife’s name as he ran towards the camper.
Michael’s wife heard his scream and the loud bang. As she looked out the window and saw the tree falling she sprinted across the camper, tore their sleeping daughter out of bed and threw herself on top of her on the floor, as the pine tree tore through the center of the camper.
Michael just got to the camper when the tree hit and fell to the ground. “I remember yelling 'no God no',” says Michael. Michael immediately plowed through debris hanging over the door yelling his wife's name.
Two others rushed to the tragic scene to help. Under the tree Michael could see his wife Ashley laying on the floor. He yelled to ask if she was OK. Many people gathered around quickly after the accident to help. The tree was still hanging from the sidewall frames as debris continued to fall.
Ashley spoke and confirmed that she was alright. Both wife and daughter survived the massive tree fall. Much of the damage seen in the photo was caused by DNR, when they attempted to remove the tree from the RV and campsite. Michal says when he assessed the damage he realized how close he came to losing his family. He sat down and prayed and thanked God for protecting his family.
“But I have one more thank you to say, and that is to Jayco. The tree did not go all the way through the camper, giving my family an avenue of escape, and the bunk house wall deflected the tree from intruding into the area where my wife and daughter sheltered. Thank you Jayco. Your camper gave us a few years of joy, and we loved it. However, in the end, it did its job and protected us from danger. I don't know if it was by design or luck, but thank you. Thank you for the memories and for letting me hug my wife and daughter again.”