Coquihalla rescuer: Nothing is staged for ‘Highway Thru Hell’

by Abdul Latheef

ALDERGROVE, B.C. – Al Quiring and his team of heavy-tow operators have been rescuing trapped drivers and their vehicles from the treacherous Coquihalla Highway in British Columbia for years.

The 52-year-old has built up such a reputation that truckers say when his green rig shows up, there is nothing to worry about anymore.

Highway Thru Hell
Season 9 of Highway Thru Hell premieres Monday night. (Photo: Bell Media)

“The secret is to have the experience and the equipment to get the job done right,” said Quiring, whose family owned company Quiring Towing and Recovery is famous for executing difficult jobs.

He is returning to Discovery Channel’s superhit series Highway Thru Hell, with Season 9 premiering Monday night.

Quiring, who has become the second-most important star of HTH after lead actor Jamie Davies, said nothing is staged for the show.

“Every job is a real job; straight up and factual as it happens,” Quiring said.

“They call it ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary filmmaking.”

Al Quiring
Al Quiring. (Photo: Bell Media)

No retakes

He said the actors are not under pressure from producers, and there are no retakes.

“No, I don’t do things again for the TV crew. They get one chance to capture what I’m doing, and they know I can’t slow down for them.”

Dead Man’s Curve is the first episode of the new season, which Discovery has promised will deliver more twists and turns than ever.

“When the weather is hitting the hill, keeping the motoring public, myself and the crew safe is a lot to handle,” said Quiring, referring to filming of the show.

But more than 30 years of experience makes a big difference.

“I know every inch of that highway and how to handle the tough situations,” he said of the expressway that links the Lower Mainland with the rest of Canada.

Quiring said the Coquihalla on a fine weather day is a magnificent expression of cross-province travel.

But the proximity to the coast and the cold weather at high elevations bring short intense storms, which are difficult to predict and prepare for, he said.

“And, because the highway is divided with concrete barricades, it is harder to service and maintain as there are no shortcuts to sneak equipment through.”

Saving lives

Over the years, Quiring and his team have saved thousands of lives.

“Lots. I could never count. I’m not one to put notches on my wrecker,” he said.

“But in 33 years of towing, I’d say that every year the number increases. On average, we do about 300-to-400 pull-ups a year.”

Quiring gets dozens of calls on a typical day, and his record was 47 calls in 24 hours near the Coquihalla Summit.

“Sometimes when it is really busy, there is no invoice. We just help them on their way and move on to the next job. Those ones aren’t registered, so the number is hard to estimate.”

Al Quiring
Al Quiring. (Photo: Bell Media)

Million-dollar horses

Quiring also recalled a rescue mission involving pricey horses.

“A Top Kick three-ton went through the brake check with a horse trailer and caught my eye. I predicted trouble, and sure enough, a few minutes later the call came in. They were jackknifed in the runaway lane on the smasher.”

Quiring said when he got there, he learned that each horse was worth $1 million, and there were three or four of them from California.

“We had to work carefully to not freak them out more than they already were. No one wants a horse kicking the side out of its trailer, let alone a million-dollar one.”

Quiring said it took some time, but he eventually got a horse transport from Langley, B.C., to safely remove them.

Fan mail

The show’s popularity has propelled Quiring to international fame, and he said he is a getting a lot of “flattering” fan mail from across Canada and around the world.

He recently received mural from Middleton, N.S.

“It was so special because some thoughtful ladies there took their time to make something so nice to honor our family business.”

Highway Thru Hell is available on Discovery.ca, Discovery GO and Crave.

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  • Love the show and watch it because of Al – he makes the show for me.
    Met his son in Osoyoos Tims and he is a credit to his dad . Polite and awesome to talk to.

  • Al’s dedication to his family and his craft is a lesson for us all. I never fail to be in awe of him. Plus, he’s cute as a button. I could listen to him talk for days. Thank you!

  • Love the show, pvr every episode, so can view when I get off the road ! Really don’t enjoy winter driving anymore myself, after 30years..