If there’s something we have learned about reality TV so far, it’s that audiences won’t ever get tired of seeing common but skillful folks performing apparently impossible feats on air. That explains very well why not only “Highway Thru Hell” is such a successful show, but also why its memorable cast quickly gained the hearts of viewers, just by being themselves and doing their job.
Out of all the Jamie Davis Heavy Rescue’s crew, Ken Monkhouse remains in the minds of “Highway Thru Hell”s audience as a good-humored man, who was undoubtedly deeply passionate about his work. Nonetheless, his sudden death and disappearance from the show have left viewers both surprised and with many unanswered questions.
So whatever happened to Ken? When and how did he die? What happened to the show afterwards, and did anyone else unfortunately die too? Keep with us to know all!
Ken Monkhouse’s Death
If the news about Ken Monkhouse’s death were somehow surprising to you, it was the same for his loved ones, friends and co-workers. On 24 May 2020, Ken suddenly died of a heart attack in his native Hope, in British Columbia.
The news of his death was announced by several local news pages, though it was Ken’s former employer and “Highway Thru Hell” star Jamie Davis who posted the most heartfelt message regarding the unfortunate loss: ‘an amazing guy, great work ethic and a good friend has passed away last night of a heart attack . Missing you forever’.
Other messages, including that of his then-current employer company Mario’s Towing, asked for respect and privacy for Ken’s family during that difficult time.
Despite the suddenness of Ken’s passing, he had actually been suffering from heart problems long before his death. In 2019, he took a break from “Highway Thru Hell” to undergo open heart surgery, only to come back to the show a couple of months after.
While he then seemed healthy following his comeback, his cardiac problems eventually took a toll on him.
To honor Ken, in December 2020 “Highway Thru Hell” aired a special episode entitled “Weather The Storm” dedicated to him.
Who Else Died From The Show?
Unfortunately, Ken Monkhouse isn’t the only “Highway Thru Hell” cast member who has passed away. Any long-time fan of the series surely remembers the always good-humored but greatly skilled rescuer Robin McArthur, who died in his sleep on 26 July 2014 at 60 years of age.
Although Robin appeared a couple of times during “Highway Thru Hell”’s first seasons, his light-hearted nature quickly gained him the hearts of the audience. Nonetheless, Robin was known in his community for more than being a TV star.
As the president of Hope Volunteer Search, Robin was known for helping people in dangerous situations, in addition to working as a secondary school metalwork teacher.
He also owned his mechanics auto shop All 4 Services, which he managed until his death from Pancreatic Cancer.
Only three months after Robin’s death, the “Highway Thru Hell” star Bruce Hardy – also known as “Crazy Horse” – died on 10 October 2014 when 58 years old. Though he was usually hard-tempered during the first two seasons he appeared in the show, on his online obituary his family described Bruce as a ‘caring and considerate individual who would do whatever was asked, whenever and wherever it was required’, true to his rebellious and free nature.
Who Had An Accident Recently?
Everyone who has watched “Highway Thru Hell” at least once, knows that accidents and mishaps are an almost everyday occurrence for Jamie Davis and his company. However, while solving unfortunate incidents is their job, sometimes things get so out of control that their team inevitably gets hurt in the process.
The most recent and widely commented of these incidents happened in June 2020, when it was revealed that Jamie’s driver Rob Mitchell suffered a ‘flat deck accident’ which involved his truck rolling over several times while he was in it. He was immediately taken to Hope Hospital, where it was found that besides the scratches and bruises, his injured ankle was the thing he needed to worry about the most. Fortunately, 12 weeks of rest and a stretched foot was everything Bruce needed to get back on the road.
What is Jamie Davis Towing?
Everyone knows what “Highway Thru Hell” is about, but what exactly does Jamie Davis’ business do when TV cameras aren’t around?
Although the show usually shows us the toughest side of Jamie Davis Towing, the truth is that the company has a wider range of services, which include rather less extreme and dangerous activities.
For starters, their auto service options go from towing, to delivering fuel to hardly accessible cars, unlocking and locking autos, long-hauling, moving equipment, and even changing tires.
While these services sound somewhat less exciting than taking care of a crashed vehicle on the hazardous roads of British Columbia, it financially makes sense that Jamie’s business is thus diversified, considering that despite occurring with frequency, large transit accidents in Hope aren’t an everyday thing.
Their Beginnings on TVG
Given how much of a coincidence it was, the way “Highway Thru Hell” came to be is curiously a rare occurrence in the TV industry these days.
It all started in 2010, when the producer Neil Thomas broke his truck on his way through Highway 5, in southern British Columbia. That’s when he met Jamie Davis, whose business’ rescuing services left such a good impression on him, that not long afterwards Thomas and a cameraman named Kevin Mills offered Davis his own show on Discovery.
Despite never having been before on anything remotely related to the entertainment world, Davis found the offer quite attractive, for allowing him to show the world what his profession and business entailed. The idea turned out well, and bin September 2012, “Highway Thru Hell” premiered on Discovery Canada with astoundingly high audience ratings.
The road has been worth it so far, even regardless of the ‘highs and lows’ Jamie and his staff have had to face so far: ‘There’s some good days and bad days, and the show tells how tough it is to be in the business’, Jamie told Today In BC in 2014, but “Highway Thru Hell” has kept afloat even when faced with so many tragedies and losses, partly because of the fascination which viewers have with such incidents.
Why Did The Show Move To Alberta?
Besides wanting to bring a deeper insight into his industry and what makes it valuable, one of the reasons Jamie Davis accepted to be part of “Highway Thru Hell” was the then-booming popularity of his business, given the rise of accidents around Hope.
Nonetheless, the rescuing industry isn’t necessarily a stable one, and Jamie was eventually pushed to expand his business to other towns, due to the increasing competition in the field, which in Jamie’s opinion resulted atleast partly from publicity emanating from the show: ‘brings on competition and people are aware of the wrecks we are doing and want a piece of the action’, he told Calgary Herald in 2014.
To ensure the future of Jamie Davis Towing, he spent the following year establishing and growing two other operations in Lake La Biche and Fort McMurray in Alberta, despite the overbearing difficulties found in those locations: ‘Whereas in Alberta, you get very, very cold weather, and dry, blowing snow conditions and lots of black ice…. the conditions are totally different, but equally dangerous.’
While those new operations seemed to be doing well for some time, in 2016 the decreasing revenues and worsening weather conditions took a toll on Jamie’s business in Alberta, pushing him to shut them down and return to British Columbia.
How Tough Is The Job?
As anyone who has ever watched “Highway Thru Hell” knows, rescuing people and recovering crashed vehicles isn’t a job suitable for everyone.
Though it would be impossible to recount all the risks that the Jamie Davis Towing has to face when called to emergencies, some of the most danger-inducing factors for them are the remoteness of the accidents, harsh weather conditions, and the rare but always-present risk of causing another accident while on a rescue mission.
As well, becoming stranded or losing communication with the rest of the team are constant dangers given the local low temperatures. However, making it alive out of every situation isn’t a matter of good luck, but instead results from decades of experience, taking the right security measures, including ensuring medical provisions, food and gas reserves, which usually last until the work team cleans off the roads after arriving to their destination, when one of the drivers returns to recharge gas for everyone, as Jamie told the website Driving in 2013.
All in all, the difficulties and always present risks that Jamie Davis Towing’s staff face on an everyday basis only makes their job more valuable, and worth appreciation.
The Strangest Recovery
Given the nature of the job, it’s not surprising to know that Jamie Davis and his team have seen some of the rarest and most uncommon situations while on their rescue missions.
When it comes to a weird recovery, that’s definitely when Jamie’s business joined the recovery of a frozen chicken load after the truck transporting them rolled over near a forest. While the experience wasn’t necessarily a pleasant one, it was definitely seen in a comedic light by those who watched it during “Highway Thru Hell” second season.
Nonetheless, the title for the oddest recovery was finding $60,000 in a car. As Jamie affirmed in a 2020’s YouTube video, the finding was made by one of his workers, who discovered the money while recovering a wrecked car, and took it to the business’ offices.
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The cash was seized by the police under the suspicion that it came from illegal activities, leaving the owner to explain the source of the money.
What Causes Most Wrecks?
If there’s something for sure it’s that no accidents are the same. Nonetheless, the situations preceding these unfortunate events are usually similar, making it easier for rescuers to identify the cause.
With over three decades in the rescue field and countless working hours in his resume, Jamie Davis is undoubtedly an expert at pointing out these things. As he told the news site The Lede in 2019, 90% of the accidents his business deals with are caused by people who drive ‘too fast for road conditions’.
Though that says a lot about automotive accidents everywhere, the other 10% is somehow meant to happen: ‘sometimes it’s just totally weather-related, where it doesn’t matter how great a driver you are, or what shape your vehicle is in.’
While knowing that most accidents are actually preventable, in a 2013 interview with Driving, Jamie affirmed that well-thought driving can save lives: ‘as the sun goes down the temperature drops, and the storm starts. Don’t travel at night. You’re fatigued and the driving is its most treacherous. Wait until morning.’
How Is It Filmed?
One of the vital aspects of “Highway Thru Hell” is definitely the fact that it’s filmed on location, allowing viewers to witness the events and rescues as if they were there when it happened.
Nonetheless, while filming a show so far away from a studio might not always be a right decision, the camera and production crews of “Highway Thru Hell” handle any difficulties with ingenuity and creativity. As explained by the specialty camera operator Dalyn Forsythe, getting the show’s ‘crazy shots’ all comes down to placing professional action cameras in strategic places with Jamie’s trucks.
While action cameras are built to last even when faced with the harsh weather conditions seen in “Highway Thru Hell”, the duration of its batteries isn’t very durable.
To solve this issue, Dalyn and his team invented individual energy systems, made up of a car battery, a power inverter and lighter sockets so that the camera can run for at least 24 hours.
That being said, placing these camera systems in places where they would get all the action but not get ruined is all about the staff’s creativity and experience.
Is The Show Real?
While every reality show is subject to editing and staged scenes, the “Highway Thru Hell” star Jamie Davis affirms that the show doesn’t fall in the same category of those others.
As he told The Calgary Herald, towing is a business so full of drama that creating more stressful situations isn’t necessary: ‘we don’t feel the need to do anything other than what we regularly do on a daily basis’.
Logically, the show’s production would usually edit scenes to catch the audience’s attention in an effective way, but everything else – such as the accidents, wrecks, locations and the businesses – are all real. That makes “Highway Thru Hell” a breath of fresh air when compared to most other supposedly action-filled reality TV shows nowadays.