I’ve seen some pretty crazy stuff during my decades driving the 400 series highways in southern Ontario. There was the jackknifed tractor-trailer I observed sliding sideways on the northbound 427 as I drove southbound, spinning cars bouncing off one another on the 403 in Hamilton and an elderly woman walking down the offramp onto the 404. I can only imagine the wide range of things witnessed by the police, firefighters, EMTs and tow truck drivers during their careers.
A mere taste of those experiences are featured in Season 2 of Heavy Rescue: 401, returning Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on Discovery. The No. 1 specialty program in its timeslot—from the producers of the equally engaging Highway Thru Hell—once again takes cameras into the cabs and onto the roadways of the province’s 400 series highways including the 401 (the busiest stretch of freeway in North America), documenting the heroics and characters keeping those routes clear.
Tuesday’s first episode sets the stage for what’s to come, as Ontario Provincial Police officer Sgt. Kerry Schmidt outlines how everyone has to be vigilant at all times for road conditions to change. And, minutes later, it does just that. A sudden snowstorm—blowing in earlier than expected—turns the 401 at Yonge St. into a sheet of ice. Salters are on high alert. They’re not fast enough, however, and cars start spinning out. It’s here that Heavy Rescue: 401‘s producers really shine; their relationship with the Ministry of Transportation’s massive control centre—the eyes that watch and manage the highways—means they have access to the centre’s camera system and can show real footage as accidents (and drama) unfolds. As interesting as it is to learn about the people who work the highways and arrive at the scene of a collision to show the cleanup, the COMPASS cameras tell the story of how it happened.
The COMPASS cameras capture key footage the following day as a dump truck driver’s box—in the up position—drives straight into a bridge, causing traffic chaos. Enter Steve’s Towing driver Sonny Subra, who rushes to the scene but is hogtied by traffic. Meanwhile, in Barrie, Ont., Classic Towing & Storage’s James is under the gun to clear a unique and surprising breakdown before the next band of snow hits highway 400.
Additional stories covered this season on Heavy Rescue: 401 is the complete shutdown of the 401 twice (once for over 30 hours); more time spent with the OPP and their tales, including an organ transplant run and airborne highway patrol; and Kingston, Ont. being included in episodes.
And with a third season already in production, fans can look forward to more Heavy Rescue: 401 stories in 2019.
What accidents and/or experiences have you had on Ontario’s 400 series highways? Let me know in the comments below.
Heavy Rescue: 401 airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on Discovery.
Images courtesy of Bell Media.