The driver of a semi-truck that slide off Montana 200 on the east side of Rogers Pass narrowly avoided disaster Thursday. On icy roads, the truck was going around a corner and heading downhill when the truck jackknifed, the driver lost control and the truck went through the guardrail and down an embankment. The Montana Highway Patrol reported no injuries from the wreck. “It’s crazy they’re not dead,” said Scott Wolff, owner of Iron Horse Towing. Wolff was tasked with getting the truck back onto the road and returning it to Missoula.

That was no small feat. The trailer hung up on what was left of the guard rails. Slope was so steep everyone who tried to walk on it slide down to the bottom. The driver and second driver in the cab sleeper climbed out an open window and made it back to the road. The cab was ripped off the frame. So was the exhaust pipe. Wolff imagines what would have happened if the wreck happened another 100 yards down the road, where there’s no trees to catch a wayward truck and a steeper, more barren mountainside.

“If you went over the rail there … uh, you’d be going 1,000 miles by the bottom,” he said. The Iron Horse crew started by clearing trees and debris with a saw. They had to work on the brake system of the truck so the tow trucks weren’t fighting locked tires and do a few other mechanical things. “This is what we do,” he said. “But it was just a tough job with an embankment so steep and not a lot of room to work.” Three wreckers pulled together, working the angles and getting the tractor swung around so it could get back on the highway. “If you separated the trailer from the truck then the front of the trailer goes to the ground. You want wheels underneath it so it’s not drug through the dirt,” he said. Getting it back on the highway took “longer than we wanted,” he said. The trucks winched the wreck for four hours.

“We stopped to let traffic go by. There was a mile of traffic backed up, but once we started pulling, we couldn’t stop or it would have slid back down,” Wolff said.

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