LIVE ON (THIN) ICE

When death is a crack away, True North Track Truck’s Brandon Friesen doesn’t freeze-up

BY GIDEON SCANLON

On the frozen-over surface of Lake Winnipeg, disaster struck. A pickup truck with an attached trailer broke through the ice and became partially submerged. With their community known for being one of the best ice-fishing destinations in the world, the citizens of Balsam Bay, Manitoba are all too familiar with this situation. When ice breaks and vehicles are involved, they know who to call.

Brandon Friesen is the owner of True North Track Truck, a towing business that specializes in ice rescues.

The brand has built up modified trucks with distinctive ice tracks. Just their presence is enough to draw crowds to watch vehicle recovery operations live, on thin ice. Friesen wasn’t sure that he’d provided much excitement to observers that day. By his standards, the job had been rather dull. But then he saw a Ford F-150 driving towards him—and over the now broken ice surface.

“We rescued the truck without water damage but realized the ice was still too thin to safely work on the trailer. We’d need another week before it would be thick enough,” “While we were working, another truck appeared. The three gentlemen inside tried to cross the pressure crack open ice that the camper had caused.”

The ice did not hold. Friesen watched as the vehicle dropped into the dark waters—with the three passengers trapped inside. With the cabin entirely submerged, the men struggled to free themselves.

“The third guy felt he had another second before he would have drowned,” says Friesen. “Fortunately, we were right there.”

Locals know just where to go for the best shows. Friesen often finds himself operating in the same areas with deceptively thin ice.

In the aftermath of the rescue, Friesen issued a social media post warning would-be ice fishers of the dangers of deceptively thin ice. Unfortunately, the message did not reach one driver—who later drove right into a hole on the lake’s surface. His vehicle was left in a precarious position—its front-right wheel submerged as the cold air began to close up the lake’s surface.

Fortunately for the driver, however, Friesen was there to pull off the day’s third and final rescue.

“It’s simply our job to do incident management and help others while staying humble,” said Friesen.

Brandon Friesen, owner
of True North Track Truck.

“While we were working, another truck appeared. The three gentlemen inside tried to cross the pressure crack and open ice that the camper had caused.”

—Brandon Friesen

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