Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
Date: January 14, 1984
Truckers Wayne Waite and Louis Gallant had been best friends for years. On January 14, 1984, thier friendship was tested to the limits in the mountains high above Nova Scotia, Canada.
Having spent the night at a truck stop, Louis stepped out of his cab's sleeping compartment the next morning and spotted Wayne's rig. Louis woke up his buddy and they had breakfast. When the men discovered they were both headed in the same direction, they decided to drive in tandem so they could chat over their CB radios.
It was clear and sunny as the men headed out of the truck stop at six in the morning. Wayne led the way in his eighteen-wheel refrigeration truck, which was packed with 23 tons of frozen food. Louis followed in his flatbed semi that was hauling 17 tons of steel. Although they both drove for the same company, it would be the first time the friends would be driving together.
As Louis and Wayne climbed the steep mountain road, Louis told Wayne on the CB that he wanted to pass. This was highly unusual, because Louis never liked to be in the lead. But for some odd reason, this morning he didn't feel like following. Wayne signaled to him when it was safe, and Louis acclerated and passed.
The truckers approached the top of the mountain and decelerated, preparing for the treacherous descent in which would maneuver numerous curves and 180-degree turns. They were driving along at twenty-five miles per hour for less then a mile, when Wayne applied his brakes. He was stunned. "I got no brakes, buddy," Wayne radioed Louis. "You're joking," Louis responded. "I ain't kidding. I got no brakes." Wayne pumped his brakes, but they still wouldn't work. "I'm going to dynamite it," Wayne told Louis.
Wayne "dynamited" it--applied his emergency brake--but it wasn't working either. He was picking up speed, and he didn't know what to do. A truck as heavy as this one couldn't possibly make it safely to the bottom of the windy mountain road without any brakes.
"Run her in the back of mine," radioed Louis. "I'll try to get you stopped." Less than one mile away was a straightaway that stretched for a half-mile. If Louis was going to stop Wayne's runaway truck, it would have to be here, because coming up was a horseshoe curve that Wayne would never be able to maneuver without slowing down.
But before reaching the straightaway, Wayne had to steer through a series of S-curves without braking. As Wayne's truck rapidly gained speed, Louis was forced to accelerate to stay in front. The men barreled through the curves, traveling close to forty miles per hour instead of the safe twenty-five. "I'm going too fast," Wayne radioed. "I'm going to have to jump." "No," responded Louis. "You'll kill yourself."
The truckers approached the straightaway. Louis slowed to let Wayne catch up to him. As both men braced themselves, Wayne aimed for Louis' truck. Wayne rammed into the rear of Louis' semi, now going about sixty miles per hour, and Louis slammed on his brakes. The two trucks slid for half a mile, tires squealing and rubber burning, then screeched to a halt less than five hundred feet from the horseshoe curve. The men stepped out of their cabs, shaken, and hugged each other.
Wayne suffered only a few bruised ribs and Louis escaped unharmed. "I thought it was all over," recalls Wayne. "I thought this was my last trip. At that mountain, if your brakes hold one vehicle, you're thankful. But to hold two--it's a miracle." "I knew I had one chance to save him," says Louis. "I just wanted to do it right. If he had hit at an angle or lost control, it would have probably taken me too."
Louis and Wayne, best friends before the incident, have become even closer. "Louis would do it for anybody," says Wayne. "He's that type of person. He was a friend before this, but he's a special friend now." Wayne still drives trucks for a living. But three years after that fateful day, Louis retired from trucking.