The Trucker’s Tale

There was a -40 degree wind chill in Westland, Michigan on Monday, January 28, 2019, along with a major snowstorm.  After tarping his load, trucker Joe Vick started cross-country to Elk Grove, California to deliver components for the canopy at a new medical center.

The trip should typically have taken four to five days. This one took nine. Vick battled blizzards all across the Midwest. A broken water pump. Spin-outs on the highway. Tow trucks that got stuck. And a night sleeping in the truck with no heat.

For much of his trucking career, Fayette AL-based driver Joe Vick, 40, stuck to local short-haul trips. Three years ago, he went into over-the-road handling with his Dodge Ram Hot-Shot and a 40-foot gooseneck trailer.

When she checked in with him the following Monday to see if he’d made it through the mountains, senior project manager Dianne Salata was dismayed to learn that “his water pump

went out during the night in Boonville, Missouri. He had no heat, but spent the night in his truck. “I had only a comforter and body heat to keep warm,” Vick says. “The next morning there was an inch of ice on the truck.” It took two days to get the water pump fixed.

Vick got as far as Fernley, Nevada before they shut down I-80 near Reno. The shortest route would have taken him through infamous Donner Pass, but it thankfully was closed. He went farther south. Still, he got stuck in the mountains in eight feet of snow. So did the tow truck sent to get him out.

Once he was rescued, Vick headed for Bridgeport, California. His message from there was “I’m stuck in Bridgeport, California. I’m not gonna be able to move today, the roads are closed. It’s supposed to clear up tomorrow and maybe it will be safe to drive it out in the morning.” Vick spent two nights in Bridgeport. “I’m in a hotel, but I have eyes on the truck and the load,” Vick relayed to Salata at Duo-Gard.

In close contact throughout the trip, Salata assured him Duo-Gard was thinking of him. “Thank you, ma’am, and I’m sorry that this has all happened,” Vick said. “I’m usually on time and I hate being late with it. As soon as the weather breaks, I promise I’ll be on my way with it. Thank you for your understanding.”

On February 5, Vick alerted Salata that the winter storm had passed, and he should be able to get through: “I gotta get out of here today because they have another wave coming through tomorrow.” He made it.

“It’s still a blur,” Vick says. “I cannot see how I made it through. But I am considering another truck.”

Vick credits the continuous support he received from Salata and his dispatchers, Beth and Brian Saint of Highland Trucking Co., in Winfield, Alabama. “This was our first one like this,” says Beth Saint. “It was the most intense, and Joe did a phenomenal job.” Her comments were echoed by Highland’s owner, Josh Lucas: “This was the worst, to put it mildly. In the trucking industry, anything can happen. But Joe is one of our most professional drivers.”

Vick’s final text to Dianne Salata went out on 2/6/19 at 8 p.m. EST: “Just got unloaded a few minutes ago. Thank you again for everything.” Salata responded with “So glad you survived the journey. You have stories to tell! Best wishes.”

On behalf of the company, Duo-Gard extends its thanks to you, Joe Vick, for your commitment and professionalism and is pleased to tell your story.

Glad to report that the return trip was uneventful, and the customer is pleased with his canopy.