On ‘Highway Thru Hell’: 3 demanding winter towing jobs

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Updated Dec 16, 2015

Few jobs are more demanding than being a truck driver negotiating already dangerous roads in hideously bad winter weather.

One of the jobs that is worse happens to be operating the heavy duty towing vehicles called upon to rescue big rigs that have accidents in such conditions.

The “Highway Thru Hell” team (Photo: Discovery Channel)

That was made clear in Sunday night’s episode of “Highway Thru Hell,” the Weather Channel’s reality show that follows the work of Jamie Davis Motor Truck & Auto Ltd. The heavy duty towing service operating in British Columbia and northern Alberta, Canada had three demanding wrecks to recover.

In heavy snow driven by fierce winds, one tractor-trailer actually drove onto the back the flatbed of another on Highway 16 west of Edmonton. It was solidly wedged there, right behind the dump track that was being hauled.

Team member Kelly Davis used one of the service’s rotator trucks to lift the truck off the back of the flatbed, allowing it to be driven out from under. Making the job tricky: Kelly had never used the rotator – essentially a crane mounted on the back of a truck — before and there were electric lines overhead.

In the end, it all went off without too much trouble.

The same could not be said about a wreck of a tractor-trailer that exited Highway 3 in British Columbia at Preacher’s Corner, a notoriously tricky piece of road.

This truck left the highway and went straight into a heavily-wooded area. The trailer was loaded with a mixed cargo of food and electronics, all of which had to be unloaded by hand before it and the rig could be hauled back onto the highway. It was a process that irritated the truck’s hovering owner and frustrated Jamie Davis crew member John Rogers.

I took an entire day to unload the trailer and another to drag the truck and trailer back to the highway and get it in shape to be towed. Two wreckers were needed for the job: one on the truck and one on the heavily damaged trailer.

Complications ensued: the trailer was so heavily damaged that the crew had to chain large wooden planks under the trailer deck to stabilize it, but it remained a tricky effort.

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Eventually, the Jamie Davis team got the truck towed and the trailer onto a lowboy to be removed.

The third wreck of the episode occurred on Highway 831 in Alberta: a tractor and trailer filled with paper had toppled off the highway and onto its passenger side.

One truck was able to unload the paper, and with relative newcomer Gord Lundin at the controls of a rotator for the first time, the Jamie Davis team accomplished its task with the tractor and trailer still connected.

“We go it out,” said a satisfied Lundin. “We did a hell of a job.”

“Highway Thru Hell” airs at 10 p.m. on the Weather Channel. Check local listings.