Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Ice Road Truckers' Hugh Rowland Lost A Heartbreaking Number Of Loved Ones To Ice

It has been repeated time and time again that the drivers of "Ice Road Truckers" have to deal with some extraordinarily dangerous conditions. After all, it's in the very title — placing any truck on ice, in the middle of the wintry Canadian wilderness, in below freezing temps, let alone a truck loaded up with hundreds of tons of gear on the back, is to tempt fate. Therein lies the danger, the excitement of the show, and the reason that most ice road truckers are so well compensated.

This ever-present danger makes for some exhilarating moments, for sure. However, it also makes the potential for tragedy very real. Thankfully, nobody on "Ice Road Truckers" has ever died on camera, although there have been plenty of sticky situations.

Still, the world of winter long-haul trucking is much bigger than the hit History series, which means there's obviously a lot more danger that is never broadcast. At least one big fan of the show who was inspired to enter the profession himself has died. Unfortunately, though most of the "Ice Road Truckers" have managed to stay safe on the job, many of them are well-acquainted with the potential tragedies that come with their profession. 

Hugh Rowland has lost 35 friends to the ice

Speaking about his 2010 memoir "On Thin Ice" with the Shelf Awareness blog, fan favorite Hugh "Polar Bear" Rowland shared the shocking amount of loved ones he has lost in the world of long-haul winter trucking. "On Thin Ice" starts with several scenarios in which the frigid Canadian wilderness can kill a person. "Yeah, no one whose truck has gone under has ever been rescued," said Rowland. "I've lost 35 friends and relatives to the ice."

That is a jaw-dropping number. What Rowland described next gives us a bit of insight into what it is that makes driving on ice both possible and so incredibly perilous, as well as a glimpse into the physics of ice road trucking. According to Rowland, most truckers who have gone through the ice have done so because they were either not paying attention or speeding. "You have to listen to the ice," he said, "that's why I keep my window down even if it's 60 below." 

For as uncomfortable as that sounds, Rowland gave an inarguable reason for it. "You have to hear it cracking and popping — it's breaking and reforming new ice as you drive — you can't not pay attention." He also said that if a driver goes too fast across the ice, the weight of the truck combined with the speed will essentially create enough strength and momentum for the water below to break clear up through the ice. 

Rowland certainly knows what he's talking about. Not only is he one of only two truckers on "Ice Road Truckers" to appear in more than 100 episodes, but he is also a self-professed lifer in the industry. As he told Shelf Awareness, he'll be driving across the ice until it's no longer fun.