Truckers Help Stranded Kids Get Home to P.E.I. for Christmas

By: Teona Baetu

MONTAGUE, P.E.I. — Imagine you get a call from your kids who are on their way home for Christmas, to tell you they’re having car troubles. Not an easy-fix kind of car trouble either. They’re stranded on the side of the highway somewhere in Quebec, out in the cold, looking at the now smoking car.

That’s what happened on Dec. 23 to Crystal and Stephen Speelman, 19 and 18 years old, who were driving from Hamilton, ON to their home in P.E.I.

“We got to about Drummondville, Quebec and we hit a little bit of slush on the side of the road and it pulled us right into the ditch,” Crystal told the Charlottetown Guardian.

After CAA towed them out, the Speelmans hit the road again, only to run into more serious trouble.

“Nothing seemed to be wrong with the car, so we kept on driving. About 15 minutes later I noticed the engine was overheating,” Crystal said. “As soon as we were stopped, smoke started pouring out from under the hood of the car.”

“I was scared, I didn’t know what the heck was happening or how we were getting home,” Crystal said.

But they did get home, safe and sound and in time for the Christmas holidays thanks to some truckers from Morley Annear Limited, a family-run trucking company from P.E.I.

Here’s how the rescue mission unfolded.

Stephen called 9-1-1 and his parents and let them know what happened.

Their mom, Wendy, set out for the long 1,000-km journey from P.E.I. to Quebec to get the kids, who were standing on the side of the Trans-Canada highway in icy-cold winds with nothing but a blanket and a coat.

Meanwhile, their dad explored other options. Trains and planes were all booked, but there was another way — by truck, of course.

“The kids’ aunt called me up. She works for a company we haul for and asked if we had any trucks close by and I talked with my dispatcher and between two trucks and three drivers we made it happen without the parents going out to get them,” said Scott Annear, general manager at Morley Annear Limited.

Soon, the kids were on an 18-wheeler with Annear driver Marc Lalonde, who was headed to Quebec City.

“Cynthia from Sherwood Produce is one of our customers, Brian and Scott (Annear) sell potatoes to them and we haul the potatoes for them to Ontario and Quebec and the U.S.,” said dispatcher Chris Cuddy, who arranged for the kids’ ride back home.

Cuddy arranged for the kids to meet Lalonde at a truck stop nearby and go to Quebec City where they met drivers Raymond and Derrick Morrison, who took them to P.E.I.

Annear guesses that they got home faster than if they would have driven themselves.

 “The second driver was in a very big hurry to get home because his wife was pregnant and ended up – that was on Friday and on Tuesday his wife had his baby, so everyone got where they were supposed to be safely,” Annear said.

“[The kids] were back home the next day at 9:00 or 9:30 in the morning and they dropped them off right at their door, right in their driveway,” Cuddy said. “It couldn’t have worked out better, to tell you the truth.” 

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