Ice storm complicates recoveries on ‘Highway Thru Hell’

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Snow is one thing. A mammoth ice storm is something else entirely.

Jamie Davis Towing trucks at work

That was evident in Sunday night’s episode of “Highway Thru Hell,” the Weather Channel’s reality show about heavy rescue and recovery towing services in western Canada. Crews had to contend with wrecks caused by an ice storm and having the headquarters of Jamie Davis Towing shut down because it lost power and communications.

The guys from Garry Leach United Towing handled the results of a deadly head-on collision of two tractor/trailers near Golden, British Columbia. Both drivers died in the crash, and Highway 1 was closed for more than 12 hours.

Making matters worse, was the delicate nature of the recovery and removal of the two rigs. Both were badly damaged, fully loaded and partway down a steep embankment. At the foot of the slope were railroad tracks. Any slip-up, and debris from the wreck could land on the tracks, shutting down rail traffic.

Each trailer – still loaded with cargo — was dragged up the hillside and onto the highway. Then, each had to be slowly dragged to a turnout to be loaded and taken away. The cab of one truck had to be lifted and removed.

The effort took parts of two days to complete.

Another unusual and difficult recovery played out on a remote forest service road south of Hope, B.C.

A pickup towing a large travel trailer had difficulty making it up a snow-covered hill. As a result, the trailer slid off the road and was perched at the top of a 30-foot drop to a river below. The driver tied off the trailer to a tree and was able to drive off in the pickup.

Ken Monkhouse’s and Richie Hawkins’ wreckers were dispatched by Mission Towing to recover the trailer.

Both wreckers attached cables to the trailer and started to move it to safety. When Hawkins attempted to move his truck to get a better angle, both cables ran out their winches leaving just Monkhouse’s truck to hold the trailer.

Hawkins scrambled to connect a cable from the trailer to a tree. Monkhouse repositioned his wrecker and successfully pulled the trailer onto the road.

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But, not all of the drama played out on a highway.

The ice storm crippled the headquarters of Jamie Davis Towing. The team was without power and Internet service. Staffers stood in the parking lot and watched as pine trees snapped under the weight of ice and cascaded down the mountainside.

Eventually, power was restored and life got back to normal for Jamie Davis Towing.