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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingJune 13 - June 19, 2018

Train Tracks and Training

0 9fe0cBy Larry Styba
Maple Ridge Towing; Maple Ridge, B.C., Canada

2014 Donnie Cruse Recovery Award for Light Duty

This recovery from April 2013 in Maple Ridge, B.C., Canada, ironically was the same day that Maple Ridge Towing was hosting a WreckMaster training course. (Team WreckMaster assured that was not a contributing factor to the award selection.)

Mission Fire Rescue Service requested a heavy wrecker ASAP for a motor vehicle accident that was located on the eastern border of Maple Ridge and Mission.

The incident was a multiple agency call-out, since it was on the border of two cities. Responders included Maple Ridge Fire Department, Maple Ridge RCMP, Mission RCMP, Collision Reconstruction Service, Mission Fire Rescue Service and Canadian Pacific Railway Police. Both Mission Towing and Maple Ridge Towing responded to the call; operators Larry Styba, Jordie Duperon, Len Wirsche, Ross Hurlburt and Jake Murdoch represented the recovery crew.

A Ford F-150 4x4 pickup truck and a Chevrolet Aveo were both traveling westbound on Highway 7 when both veered left simultaneously, went off the road, rolled down a 65' embankment and landed on Canadian Pacific Railway tracks.

The Ford F-150 came to a rest on its side in a ditch with the driver's door against a culvert. Small trees had fallen onto the truck, and they were blocking the only door available to the rescuers to free the occupants.

The Chevrolet Aveo landed on its roof, partially on the edge of the ditch and partially blocking the Canadian Pacific Railway's main line.

The recovery teams organized a scene survey to allow them to get the necessary equipment and manpower ready to go once they were given the go-ahead to execute the job.

We knew that accessing the vehicles would be difficult considering the steep embankment, so we developed a plan to recover each vehicle simultaneously with two separate teams. After calculating the resistance and determining resources, we decided that one team would focus on recovering the F-150 and gathering the debris while the other team would focus on rigging the recovery of the Aveo.

RCMP approved the recovery; preservation of the debris was a key component to the investigation as the evidence and the vehicles were to be secured for further examination.

The first team began its task was to recover the Ford F-150 and return it to the roadway above. With their 1994 International/Century 1050 tandem-axle wrecker, they extended the boom out to the maximum length to lift the F-150, rather than winch it through the dirt embankment, for best evidence preservation.

The team winched the vehicle to a plateau half way up the embankment and completed the second stage of this recovery bringing the F-150 to the roadway.

Ross Hurlburt, arrived on scene and loaded the F-150 for transport on a 2007 Hino 238 with a Century 21' steel bed. The first team then loaded the heavy debris by hand onto the deck truck and secured it for transport.

During this time, I communicated the recovery plan to a constable from the Canadian Pacific Railway Police who gave me the go-ahead to install the rigging on the Aveo.

I choked a continuous loop strap through each of the aluminum rims and connected all four straps to a screw-pin shackle before connecting the hook from the rail vehicle's Hiab knuckle-boom into the shackle.

The Canadian Pacific Railway Hiab operator then rotated it onto the bed of a 10-ton flatbed truck. Next, the railway crew took the vehicle just south of the accident scene. Canadian Pacific Police had the crossing blocked off for phase two of the recovery.

The railway crew lifted the vehicle off their truck and rotated it to the side of the railway track.

Jake Murdoch disconnected the Aveo from the Hiab crane and prepared to upright the Aveo with the Dodge 550/Century 411.

After it was uprighted, Hurlburt backed into place and put the Aveo on the wheel lift and dollies and cleared the scene.

Both teams started the recovery process simultaneously at 2:11 p.m the highway was opened at 2:51 p.m. and the rail line was opened at 3:09 p.m.

The Donnie Awards are sponsored by WreckMaster, B/A Products and AW Direct and are presented at the American Towman Exposition in Baltimore, Md. in November. Has your tow company worked a recovery job that you feel is worthy of a Donnie Award? Submit your entry to American Towman Editor Brendan Dooley at
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