Pulling tractor-trailers back onto the highway after they have crashed is never easy, but it seemed as though the folks on Sunday night’s episode of “Highway Thru Hell” faced several especially difficult – not to mention, dangerous — recoveries.
It took two heavy-duty wreckers and several airbags to get one trailer loaded with 40,000 lbs. of groceries up off its side, on its wheels and ready to be towed. To keep the trailer from splitting open and spilling its load onto Highway 1 in British Columbia, Canada, Al Quiring and Jason Davis would lift and roll the trailer at the same time.
How difficult is that? “It’s like (lifting) a wet paper towel with a rock in the middle,” said Quiring.
He and Davis got some help by first positioning several heavy-duty airbags under the trailer. As they were inflated, they helped lift and stabilize the trailer.
But, even that didn’t ensure all would go well, as one of the air bags slid out from under the trailer and had to be repositioned.
Still three hours later the slow lift-and-turn maneuver was successful and the busy highway could be reopened.
“I’m just glad it didn’t blow in half,” said Quiring deadpanned afterwards.
In the episode’s other most demanding recovery, heavy rain caused a jackknifed trailer to wind up straddling the top of a concrete barrier alongside the highway. Its rear wheels were on one side of the barrier and the body of the trailer and the truck blocked the other lane.
As John Rogers approached the scene, the driver for Jamie Davis Towing confessed, “I’ve never seen a wreck in this position.”
After removing the trailer’s side skirts to prevent damage, Rogers confidently – and to the surprise of others on the scene – hooked onto the front of the truck and gently edged it forward. Bystanders figured the trailer would just drag the cement barrier with it.
But, Rogers’ educated gamble paid off and the wheels edged over the barrier and eventually dropped to the pavement and truck and trailer towed off and the highway reopened to traffic.
The episode’s strangest and most dangerous moments came after the work of the towing company was done.
Al Quiring towed a yarder – a 95,000-pound piece of logging equipment used to pull timber through the forest — up the highway to a job site. Once there things got dicey.
The logging company hitched the yarder to the back of a road grader, which set about towing it up an incline covered in ice and snow. Suddenly, the yarder begins to slide back down the hill, pulling the grader with it.
Fortunately, the grader operator managed to regain traction and stop the slide, which could easily have turned deadly.
“Highway Thru Hell” airs at 10 p.m. Eastern Sundays on the Weather Channel.