Millions of viewers have tuned in to watch the often-dangerous Arctic exploits of the show’s drivers, but the stories behind the scenes are often just as interesting as what we see onscreen. Here’s some of the most interesting untold truths from Ice Road Truckers.
Dangerous for the crew:
The production crew is often right there with the drivers, and their jobs can be about as dangerous. A report from 2012 detailed the work necessary to put the show together, including hanging out of a “chase car” to get footage of moving trucks, sometimes with nothing more than a seatbelt for security. A pair of crew members were hospitalized after crashing their truck into a semi during a blizzard in 2009.
Trouble with the law:
Timothy Zickuhr, a cast member of the Truckers spinoff Deadliest Roads, made headlines in 2015 when he stood trial for two felony charges for kidnapping and extortion.
Prosecutors said Zickuhr imprisoned a prostitute after claiming she’d stolen money from him, allegedly assaulting her. She eventually tricked Zickuhr into calling police. Zickuhr was also accused of assaulting and robbing an 80-year-old woman—a crime police linked to him after he ditched his flip-flops while fleeing the scene. He was sentenced to five-to-15-years in prison.
“Polar Bear” sues:
Hugh “Polar Bear” Rowland was popular during the show’s first eight seasons but was absent when the show returned for season nine. Why? He sued in 2014, alleging that a producer’s reckless driving was responsible for injuries Rowland sustained in an accident.
TMZ reported that Rowland claimed, “severe and permanent injuries” as a result, and his wife added she was deprived of the “love, companionship, and the enjoyment of sexual relations.”
Being a fan can be dangerous:
Brett Colley, military veteran and 45-year-old novice trucker who was inspired to change careers after watching the show, died on a run in 2012 when his vehicle left the highway. His sister told Business Insider Colley had only achieved his dream of driving ice roads six months before the crash: “It made us all really proud. I told all my friends that my brother was a real-life ice road trucker.”
Don’t believe everything you see:
Though much of what the show depicts is real, there’s plenty that’s changed to create good TV.
Cast member Rick Yemm explained in a 2012 interview: “They take small parts of our personality, like, yeah, I’m brash, I’m not always the most politically correct person and all that stuff. But, that’s not ME. That’s a small part of me that they exploit […] This is all their thing, that they push these stories to the point that we have to go along with it or we’re not involved.”
Movie in development:
Fox optioned the movie rights to an Ice Road Truckers movie in 2008.
Two years later, Max Payne director John Moore was attached. Moore described his vision for “tough guy” feature to Deadline: “Here’s a bunch of characters who tackle problems by getting in there and getting things done. We’ll turn it into a mission movie that hearkens back to Towering Inferno, Jaws, or The Guns of Navarone. You got a problem, go solve it.” We can see the posters now: “Kick some Ice;” “Go Truck Yourself;” “Something about Roads”…these taglines write themselves!
Keywords: trucking accidents, road accidents, truck driving, driving ice roads, road truckers