A stranded truck, sub-zero temps, the smell of trouble

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When Bison Transport owner-operator Mark Tricco saw a tractor-trailer on the shoulder of the road in the middle of the night, he had a “gut feeling” that something was wrong.

See the May Overdrive for a feature profile of Bison Transport’s Mark Tricco, who was named 2015 Owner-Operator of the Year.See the May Overdrive for a feature profile of Bison Transport’s Mark Tricco, who was named 2015 Owner-Operator of the Year.

“I was running northern Ontario in January 1998, probably between 2 and 4 o’clock in morning,” says Tricco, of Brandon, Manitoba. “It was between 25 and 35 below.”

Tricco briefly recalled the event in a video interview played last month at the awards banquet of the Truckload Carriers Association annual meeting in Las Vegas. Moments later, he won $25,000 when he was named the 2015 Owner-Operator of the Year, a contest put on by TCA and Overdrive and sponsored by Cummins and Love’s Travel Stops.

As soon as he saw the disabled truck, Tricco pulled over and knocked on the door. There was no response and the engine was off, so he assumed the driver had been taken away. No cones or flares were placed, so Tricco put his own out to secure the scene.

Ready to leave, he knocked one last time. The driver came to the door.

“I think he’d started to fall asleep in the bunk trying to stay warm,” Tricco says. “So he was a little bit incoherent.” The driver had no heat, light or batteries.

“The sad thing was the man had on blue denim jeans, a T-shirt and a blue denim coat — basically summer clothing in the middle of winter,” Tricco says. He believes the driver would have died soon had he not been rescued.

Tricco got him to a hospital and later learned that he had been without heat for four and a half hours. He had frostbite on 40 percent of his body, but fortunately lost no limbs.

Tricco said he always carries an emergency kit on the road, as do most truckers and other drivers. A law in northern Manitoba requires motorists to carry a survival kit.

In this video interview, Mark Tricco recounts his encounter with a driver unprepared for being stranded in a Canadian winter. The video was played before the Truckload Carriers Association annual meeting in Las Vegas, where Tricco’s honor was announced.

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