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

by Abdul Latheef

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 a tapestry 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 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..

  • The graphics on your show is the icing on the cake…I only recently discovered “Highway thru Hell” taping every back episode. Just can’t say enough positive things about everyone and the crew. Unbelieveable abilities to do this job right. These men and the equipment are critical !! Thank you.

  • If you have need of a heavy recovery team in this area and call Jamie Davis instead of Al Quiering then take your bill and shut the hell up.

  • Love the show cause you don’t know what kind of Accident the drivers are going to get a call about and can’t believe that people live out of some of those crashes.

  • I wish for you and your team and Gord too to have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year! Stay safe as Nd try to avoid the COVID-19!! Love you all! I am Marian Johnson from Lexington, Tennessee!

  • I am a 74 year old grandmother, a retired university administrator, I love Highway Through Hell. I’ve learned so much about car and truck parts, the geo entry and physics of rescue operations, and the incredible challenges these men face.

  • What can I say about this show except that it’s a fantastic show to watch daily during the days and weekly at nights for the new shows. I record the new shows every week on Monday evenings at 10:00pm. I am permanently disabled. I spend most of my days in bed. I just love watching this show. Jamie Davis and Al Quiring are great, as are their crew members. It’s a family type business as you can plainly see. Not always blood family but a mostly a hard working pros type family. I was quite upset to learn when Bruce and Ken both passed away. It’s like losing a good friend. I hope this series keeps filming for many many more seasons. Nine seasons so far and counting. Discovery should try and keep this show going for as long as they possibly can. I live in Ontario. I have never been out west. I get to see the show and the beautiful country that the west part of our country is. It feels as though the guys are part of my life now. It has become part of my regular daily life for the last several years. Keep up the great work fellas. Enjoy your work but play safe. I hope to meet Jamie and Al one day. Gore Boyd is the one dude I want to have a beer with and shoot the shit. He seems like a straight shooter. He has been through some tough times in his life but here he is. Standing tall and strong. Be well fellas.

  • I love the show and really like Jamie Davis and his crew, but Al Quiring and Gord are my favorites on that program. They could do a show with just Quiring Towing and I would definitely watch it.

  • I look forward to getting up in the morning to watch Highway – I know all the boys and their families and have a bit of a crush on Colin. Mostly though I love watching the skill and determination of all the drivers. I had never realized just how tough a man has to be to do heavy rescue. Bravo to the brave lot of you !!

  • I wish we could see Highway thru Hell more often. Would also love to get an autographed picture of Al, his sons, and Gord. Especially Gord!!

  • Jamie has made a big mistake buy selling ALL his modern HEAVY wreckers and depending on his rebuilt older ones. He has had to call for help more than once. Al on the other hand puts Jamie to shame with his 2 heavy duty machines

  • Dead Man’s Curve is the first episode of the new season, which Discovery has promised will deliver more twists and turns than ever. This is mentioned as though it’s being staged, cause how would anybody know there will be more twists and turns when all accidents are suppose to be accidental. Who would know ?
    Still love the show.

  • I love watching the show , an I always wanted to drive tow truck. but never did I have my AZ license I’m in Canadian Ontario Jamie his the best one I like on the show .

  • Highway thru hell is an awesome show. You guys are all great. Still trying to figure out how that trailer landed up under the train bridge. The one where Jamie pulled out the jack knifed truck on the bridge. And Al and Gord pulling out that “turtle” lol. Good job all

  • Please tell me how to acquire a views /roadways so I can follow the heavy rescuers road map of British Columbia with expanded road maps so I can follow just exactly where the heavy rescue teams are working.

  • I have driven long haul for 35 years and have never had the pleasure of meeting AL or any other heavy hook operator. I do watch the show and many times I am left to wonder how the hell drivers manage to lose it like that. But I admit I have had my white knuckle moments like one time in mid-December when I almost jackknifed it on the downhill side of the smasher. After that I always thought a nice touch would be to put a sign with hill conditions like BLACK ICE, up at Zopkios. But anyway just wanted to say Hi to all and “keep the sunny side up and the greasy side down”

  • Love this show. Amazing what they can do and the situations they get into. My husband and I have a great respect for these tow operators and what they do.

  • You guys are TOTALLY AMAZING! Dealing with those psycho drivers on the 401/402. Over here in little ‘ole Connecticut, I do not see anything like the snow fall you get on Heavy Rescue. My prayers go out to EVERYONE risking their lives.

  • You can’t beat this show and it’s characters! I love to watch men do stuff that I was crazy enough to do when I was a bit younger. YOU GUYS KICK BUTT!! Please keep doing what you’re doing. We love to watch every episode and wish you the very best. Work safe!

  • Great show. Would love to see the whole series but can’t find where to see them. Only see it Monday thru Friday 6am on the CW

  • Just seen that HTH is back on TV here in Manchester UK, can’t say enough about these guys they are dedicated in the way they do their job and keep the traffic rolling, stay safe Jamie and Al

  • How are accidents filmed? Someone tells me they “have to be remade and filmed to show how it happened, because film crew could not be standing on the freeway filming them coming down the road. Just saw the truck of horses go over. Was that actually filmed as it was happening, or was that part of the show replayed and filmed somewhere else?

    • Those “as they happened” scenes are a recreation done by computer animation. If you look closely, you can tell the difference between the recreated shots and the real thing as the tow truck drivers clear up the aftermath. According to what Al Quiring said earlier, there are no retakes on this show.

  • It’s been years since he said it but there was an episode where Al Quiring was being filmed during a potentially dangerous job and he turns and says to the crew filming him that he wants them “paying attention to what’s going on and standing eight steps back because there’s no such thing as a little bit dead with this if something goes wrong.”

  • Love the show..been watching since the beginning as I’ve been on that highway when I visit from was heartbreaking to see all the damages from mother nature great job keeping the highways safe…

  • I’m a retired physicist and nuke engineer who grew up in Wyoming in a blue collar family with a father that was a gas pipeline maintainer so I learned early on the value of work skills in the field. These guys fascinate me because I see them as master gravity engineers who read cable angles and tensions like professional poker players read tells in the opponents’ faces. The series is addictive.

  • I watch you folks on tv every chance I get. Lately your show is preempted by storms coming across Canada. If it warranted it here in New York a rotator is the answer the higher the capacity the better. I know your work will continue as the drivers on the COQ never let up. You need to set up cameras uptake pictures and send to the trucking outfit violating the speed limits. When they receive thousands of truckers and cars get caught and yes they don’t care as nothing is being done to stop the speeders. I would guess there are thousands of smashed trucks stacked up in a junk yard somewhere

  • I love watching Highway thru Hell and especially Al with his big wrecker. I am sure that his years of experience has made him famous. There is no text book for what he does, only many recoveries that has made him a legend on the Coquihalla Highway. I find it especially interesting when he is recovering a piece of heavy equipment that has been stuck in the bog.