It was 3:30 AM on I-80 just outside of Elko, NV, when a driver lost control of his SUV. The vehicle flipped over, the driver was ejected into the median and the SUV came to rest in the center of the interstate. There was no moon and the night was pitch black, so when an unsuspecting cargo tractor trailer came cruising down the highway, the driver did not see the SUV laying in his path. The tractor trailer smashed through the SUV, which caused the rig to roll onto its side and slide hundreds of feet into the median, barely missing the unconscious SUV driver.
The Nevada Highway Patrol arrived on the scene and called an EMS team to air lift the driver of the SUV to a nearby hospital. The NHP then dispatched Lostra Brothers heavy driver and recovery expert, Jerry Swisher.
Jerry arrived in Truck 21, our Heavy Peterbilt Wrecker, to find a totaled SUV and a refrigerated trailer half full of limes laying on its side. Jerry called in the Lostra Brothers wreck team to the site, including Truck 33 with our refrigerated trailer, and Truck 38, one of our flatbeds. Handling the situation in order, one driver towed the SUV to the Lostra Brothers impound yard in Elko, while Jerry and the rest of the crew turned to the trailer and the limes.
Jerry saw that the cargo was piled toward the front of the trailer. The risk was that during recovery, 20,000 lbs of limes could blow open the wall and spill into the median. But with over a decade of wreck recovery experience, Jerry put two large tow straps around the front of the trailer and went to work.
At 8:00 AM, traffic was picking up and the westward interstate was down to just one lane. While keeping the safety of his crew top of mind and with Truck 21 positioned in the left lane, Jerry used the boom to slowly turn the truck and trailer onto its wheels. Under the weight of the limes, the trailer started to buckle but it held until both the truck and trailer were upright and ready to be towed. To preserve the cargo, the team spent the next couple of hours unloading all of the limes by hand into Truck 33’s refrigerated trailer. With I-80 clear and the limes stored, the team was ready to roll.
At 2:30 PM, the Lostra Brothers Towing & Wreck Recovery team arrived back at the impound yard and stowed the damaged truck and trailer for the owner. While the team headed home for some well deserved rest, Scottie, our Office Manager, wondered if Jerry and the guys would ever again want to see another lime.