It takes a special kind of person to want to drive tractor trailer loads of supplies along the notoriously dangerous Coquihalla Highway during the winter around Hope, B.C. But it takes an even more special kind of person (some may say “nuts”) to pull crashed tractor trailers out of the ditches along the Coq. Meet Jamie Davis, whose company, Jamie Davis Heavy Rescue, has been doing it for over a decade.
Davis and his motley assortment of drivers, mechanics and staff are back behind the wheel for Season 3 of Highway Thru Hell–returning to Discovery with 13 new episodes tonight–and the stress and danger has been doubled for the grizzled road veteran. A drop in business in B.C. meant Davis needed to explore other options, leading to an opportunity for his company to patrol Alberta’s Highway 881 and 63, the former the only lifeline between Lac La Biche and Fort McMurray in the newly discovered oil fields.
“We had to take a gamble and move to Alberta,” Davis says. “It was do or die. We moved to Fort McMurray, as well as having locations closer to Lac La Biche and now we’re in Edmonton. Long-term employees have stuck through me through thick and thin and they have the gumption to just do it.” Doing it is a tough, long slog. Hours are spent pulling shattered rigs upright and coordinating with law enforcement and firefighters to re-open the mountain or tundra thoroughfares as quickly and safely as possible. Davis teases viewers will see how stressed even longtime staffers get during the course of Season 3.
The road to Fort McMurray presented a particular challenge for everyone because of its remoteness–a closed highway means no groceries or fuel make it there not to mention the heavy equipment needed at the oil fields–but the conditions are harsher with winter temperatures plunging to minus-46, wreaking havoc on both man and machines.
Davis is still amazed over the popularity he and his crew have gotten over the last two seasons of Highway Thru Hell. The whole TV thing started innocently: driver Adam Gazzola was helping a guy whose truck broke down and they compared jobs. Gazzola told the dude, who revealed he worked in the television industry, that he drove a heavy rescue truck for a living and that driving the Coq in the winter was a gong show. The TV guy’s boss? Mark Miller, the man whose Great Pacific TV production company is behind such shows as Air Dogs, Untold Stories of the ER and Daily Planet. A series was born.
And despite Highway Thru Hell‘s success–the 2012 debut is still the No. 1 series premiere in Discovery’s history–fame isn’t their goal.
“That isn’t our business,” he says. “Our business is towing.”
Highway Thru Hell airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery.