A recent route through Alaska turned out to be extremely dangerous for one truck driver.
Fortunately, two U.S. Air Force master sergeants came to his rescue!
Around 11 p.m., on November 2nd, David Barber and Morgan Cabaniss, (two master sergeants from 673d Security Forces Squadron) had nearly reached their destination to meet up with four friends for a caribou hunt. – They were headed up Dalton Highway, (which is known locally as, “Haul Road”) when Cabaniss noticed that something was wrong.
According to Cabaniss: “We were going over Atigun Pass when we came up on a trucker. He was going really slowly, and I could see his tail lights reflecting off the road behind him. I had just told Dave [Barber] that the road must be really slick, when the truck started to jackknife. We could see his tail lights and his headlights both pointing back at us!”
The truck had been headed for a turn, but instead jackknifed and slid over the edge of the roadway into a snow bank. The rig came to a stopping point (with the cab in the bank and the trailer tires on the roadway) right at the edge of a 600-foot drop. Nothing but a pile of snow was separating the truck from the edge.
Barber stopped his vehicle 80 yards from the wreck, and the two master sergeants quickly put on some of their winter gear before running to the aide of the driver.
When Cabaniss got the the truck, he noticed that the cab door was propped open. The driver was wedged between the door and the side of the truck, and the master sergeants immediately knew that they had to get him out of there.
Cabaniss went to the edge of the roadway, waist-deep in the snow, and essentially ‘swam’ to the cab to help the driver out.
The driver hadn’t been wearing any winter gear because he was driving. – He was wearing only jeans and a t-shirt.
The impact tossed his warm clothing all around the cab, and the shocked driver emerged with only a boot and a tennis shoe. Knowing that the elements would cause the driver to freeze up even further, Cabaniss informed the driver that the truck might go over the edge. – This helped to bring the driver back to his senses while he was being pulled out of the deep snow.
The master sergeants gave the driver a jacket and some water while he warmed up in their vehicle. They then proceeded to drive back 10 miles to a maintenance station (since there was no cell phone reception) the driver put out calls to the Citizen’s band radio and called a few other numbers, but didn’t receive any answers.
35 minutes later, a DOT safety official came to the station to pick up the driver.
— U.S. Air Force (@usairforce) November 22, 2013
Cabaniss and Barber later checked in on the driver, and found out that he was one of the most experienced drivers operating in the area – in fact, he was already back out on the road!
Fortunately everything turned out alright, but this situation is an important reminder to stay prepared for the harsh winter elements, and to be ready to help yourself and others at any time!