Heavy Rescue: 401

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Over the last three decades Abrams Towing has racked up a staggering five million jobs across Ontario.  And lead operator John Allen has worked more than a few of them.   Running a 40-ton rotator, John brings over 25 years of experience to the job. Known as ‘The’ John Allen in some circles, John and his truck are ready to handle whatever the tow gods send their way.


Mark left behind a career at a Bay Street investment bank, trading his desk for a seat behind the wheel of a 1-ton at Abrams Towing.  As skilled with people as he is with recovery, Mark says helping drivers in crisis gives him a sense of satisfaction that he never felt in his old life. Mark aims to work his way up to running a heavy wrecker, but for now he’s happy to be on the front lines when the snow starts to fly.


Dave Stewart is Fleet Manager at Abrams.  He's been fixing cars since he was 14 years old and has risen in the ranks at Ontario's largest tow company.  He's now in charge of keeping Abrams entire fleet of more than 160 trucks on the road.  When a heavy wrecker breaks down, Dave's shop quickly becomes an automotive E.R.


Classic Towing has grown into one of the biggest companies in Ontario, boasting a fleet of over 150 trucks. Lead driver, James, operates the pride of the fleet, a 75-ton, twin-steer, 6-winch, rotator. James has a reputation as one of the top operators in the country, but this season, his years of experience will be put to the test with some of the most challenging recoveries of his career.


James Ireland describes his right hand man as looking exactly like the stereotype of a tow truck driver.  But beneath his bushy beard, Bubba is soft-spoken and thoughtful.  He works with James and the crew at Classic to keep the traffic moving north of Toronto.  Bubba suffered a brutal, potentially career ending back injury years ago, but he works through the pain because, he says, 'I love what I do.' 


Kevin is a top heavy operator at Metro Truck Group, a massive full service truck centre based in Hamilton.  His stomping grounds are home to some of North America's largest steel plants and a key route to the U.S. border.  He’s excitable and full of energy and this winter Kevin's been handed the keys to a shiny new rotator.  He'll need to put it to work as he faces some of this season's biggest and most challenging recoveries.


It’s hard to find anyone running a heavy wrecker who’s more respected than Gary. Unsatisfied with life as a mechanic, Gary teamed with his wife Tammy to buy their first tow truck and built a thriving business while he was still working a day job.  He cares deeply about his customers and mentoring his son, Collin.  But when this family man gets on the job he is all business.


After going down a different road in college Collin felt the pull of heavy recovery and returned to his roots. He works hard to live up to his father’s example so that he’ll be ready to take over the family business someday.  This season Collin sets his sites on running a heavy wrecker but it’s a bigger challenge than he may realize.


Kyle drove a semi for 20 years but after a dangerous close call during Hurricane Sandy he decided to shift into towing.  Gary gave him a chance at Preferred and Kyle hasn’t looked back.  Now, as one of the company’s top drivers, Kyle needs to be ready to lead the team when Gary is not around.


Mark and Gary go way back to the time they played baseball and hockey together as kids.  A few years ago these old friends teamed up again.  After just two years on the Preferred team, Mark’s got a lot of catching up to do but his time in the military has taught him the to adapt and overcome.  Even though he’s got a lot to learn, Mark is never shy to speak his mind on the job.  “That’s just how I operate.”


Steve has built his company from the ground up, arriving in Canada with little more than pocket change. Starting out with one tow truck, he has grown his business into an empire. Steve says running one of the top chasing companies in the G.T.A. takes its toll... but he says he wouldn’t have it any other way.


Sonny escaped civil war in Sri Lanka, hoping for a better life in North America. Working his way up from pizza delivery driver to one of Steve’s top heavy wrecker operators, Sonny works long hours on the road, building a life for himself and his wife Suma in their adopted country. He dreams of one day operating a rotator and joining the heavy rescue elite, but he's going to have to earn it.


Mike Ross is a third generation heavy recovery operator at Ross' Services in London.  His family's yard is in the epicentre of Southwestern Ontario's snow belt - where nasty winds and lake effect snow are the norm.  Ross' Services has been keeping the highways around London moving for more than 50 years, and it'll be Mike's job to keep them open in the years to come. 


Don’t let the grizzly on his wrecker or the bear tattoos fool you.  Under ‘Bear’s’ tough exterior is a heart of gold.  Despite many close calls on the road ‘Bear’ has helped keep the highways open for more than 25 years.  But this season the dangers will hit home in a very frightening way. 


A veteran of 42 years, Dave has been with Ross’ Towing longer than some of the drivers have been alive. ‘Old Man Dave’ is a one-stop-shop for repair and recovery - someone people turn to in a time of crisis. Dave has been a valuable member of the Ross’ team.  He says this year is going to be his last - but hanging up his chains will be tougher than he thinks.


Herb is President of Herb's Towing, one of Eastern Ontario's most respected tow companies.  Herb's father started the business in 1957 and Herb Jr. inherited his father's passion for modifying heavy wreckers.  He recently handed over control of the company's tow operations to his son Andrew, but when a big one hits the ditch, Herb can’t stay away.


For Andrew, towing runs in his family’s blood.  He's following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, specializing in heavy recovery at Herb's Towing in Cornwall.  Andrew is in his mid-twenties, but has already taken on the responsibility of running the show.  The world of heavy recovery can be exhilarating, but also very dangerous, as Andrew learns first-hand this season.


If you see a massive, yellow 80-ton rotator rolling down the highways of Eastern Ontario, there's a good chance Nate is behind the wheel.  He's a top heavy recovery operator at Herb's Towing.


Eric is the towering lead operator at Coxon's Towing in Windsor.  He's 6' 5", with a booming voice and big personality to match.  Few operators take control of a recovery like Eric.  He helps keep the busiest border crossing in North America flowing. But his real challenge: learning to be patient with rookies on the crew.


George is working his way up the ranks at Coxon's Towing.  Over the last couple years he’s tried to soak up everything there is to learn and has earned the chance to operate the holy grail of heavy recovery - a rotator.  He's been handed a huge opportunity, but with the voice of Eric Godard booming over his shoulder, will he rise to the occasion?


Ontario Provincial Police Sergeant Kerry Schmidt has spent a decade investigating serious collisions so he knows exactly how dangerous the highways can be.  Now as media coordinator for the Highway Safety Division he works to keep the public informed any time there’s trouble on the road.  But his true mission is spreading the safety messages that help prevent collisions in the first place.