Since I find myself telling this story in comments every few months, decided it was time to make a post so I could just link here whenever the temptation strikes.
Moral of the story: don’t be stupid.
Long version: Ambulance is speeding down a dark street near my house. Little old lady pulls over to let it by, and her right two wheels drop off the edge of the street, where a ditch lurks with no guardrail. Not just into the grass, but literally hanging off the road with nothing beneath them.
Naturally she’s stuck, but doesn’t realize it, and keeps racing her engine trying to pull out.
I drive by, hear the engine, stop to see if I can help. It seemed simple enough: pull her forward and left until the tires are back on the street. By some miracle she had her owner’s manual, but it turns out the only recovery point is, you guessed it, on the back right corner. The worst possible location.
At this point, I should have called her a tow truck and waited to make sure she got home safely, but somehow I had it in my mind that I had promised to pull her out, and I would.
Despite it being after dark, a few bystanders were watching, and I found a young man to volunteer to sit behind the wheel. I didn’t want her in the car: not only was she clearly not entirely clueful at this point, but pulling it from that rear corner guaranteed things would get hairy.
Unfortunately cars kept passing on this fairly narrow street, so I had to time my recklessness appropriately. Finally a window opened up and I started pulling her rear end around, so the poor guy was shortly facing about 45º down into the deep ditch. He was naturally a bit panicky and racing that engine pointlessly, but I kept pulling awkwardly backwards (again, narrow street) until the car was finally on the street again.
At which point, the front tires finally had something to do with all that power, and the car drove straight back into my left fender.
The guy got out, said something about the fact that everything was ok now, and hoofed it. I probably would have done the same at his age. Her bumper had a hole in it, but my fender and hood were both crumpled. Body shop time for me.
I was still able to drive to make sure she and her car go home safely, but as it turned out, she had let her insurance lapse. Fortunately I had uninsured driver coverage, and a few weeks later I had my beloved Wrangler back on the road.
Again, moral of the story: don’t be stupid. When you’re out of your depth, call in the professionals.