Darrell Ward was an American trucker, reality TV personality and businessman, born on 13 August 1964, in Rock Creek, Montana USA. He’s best known for appearing in History channel’s “Ice Road Truckers”. He was killed in an aircraft accident on 28 August 2016.
Darrell, whose family has been dedicated to trucking for generations, learned everything about the business during his youth. As expected of someone who grew up in Deer Lodge, he became interested in activities such as camping, fishing, and in outdoor explorations. He started riding bikes, and learned how to operate harvest rigs in his teens.
There’s no information about his parents’ name, any siblings, nor his education.
Always been one of my favorite pics! ❤❤
He started his career as trucker at an early age, specializing in winter driving. Darrell had at least 30 years of experience by the time he was first contacted by the producers of “Ice Road Truckers”.
“Ice Road Truckers”
The series “Ice Road Truckers” premiered in 2007, with high audience ratings. This History’s reality series centers on the adventures of a series of truckers for periods of six months, as they drive in dangerous conditions through ice roads in Canada and Alaska, to supply remote and often isolated communities during winter. Due to its favorable reviews, “Ice Road Truckers” received a nomination for Emmy Awards, in its Outstanding Cinematography for Non-fiction Programming category.
Darrell, who entered the show’s cast in its sixth season in 2012, became a fan favorite not only for his personality, but also for helping out his trucking partners and his rivals when in need.
Is Ice Road Trucking Dangerous?
Difficult freezing conditions in winter and facing extra complicated road circumstances is what makes ice road trucking a highly dangerous job, more than any normal trucking.
Driving in these wintery conditions, with temperatures that can drop from -50°C to as low as -70°C, mean significant dangers to truckers, as mechanical issues and hypothermia are potential hazards.
Normally, ice roads are not actually roads but frozen rivers, ponds, lakes and other terrain.
While in these extreme conditions, ice can hold 100,000 pounds if the truck is moving, but only 60,000 pounds in stationary positions. This means heavy vehicles need to be always on the move to avoid the risk of cracking the ice and sinking, but speed shouldn’t surpass 15mph, (25kph).
Due to these risky and precarious circumstances, ice road trucking is a job meant only for experienced, senior truckers. In general, trucking agencies don’t offer this kind of job as they are meant only for special companies that can meet the expertise level required.
While on the road, truckers must supply themselves with sufficient food, water and medical supplies, as there aren’t many stops on these roads, if any, sometimes over several hundred miles/kilometers.
Although the exact date Darrell Ward married Gwen Menhusen-Ward is unknown, they supposedly tied the knot in the late 1980’s, and they had two children together.
Their oldest son Reno has followed his father’s steps, and has become a trucker as well. Younger daughter Terra works at a Primary School in Kansas, and is married to Jarrett Brooks with whom she has two children.
Darrell Ward tragically died on 28 August 2016 when the airplane he was piloting unsuccessfully tried to land at Rock Creek Airport, in Montana. Ward’s co-pilot Mark Melotz of 56 years also died in the crash. The accident took place when the pair was returning from Texas, where Darrell attended The Great American Truck Show in Dallas.
'Ice Road Truckers' Star Darrell Ward Dies In Plane Crash https://t.co/SyFxxCSIcS
— SkyNews (@SkyNews) August 29, 2016
Ward had just finished filming “Ice Road Truckers” 10th season, and was on his way to Missoula, Montana to start filming a new brand documentary on ‘plane wrecks’ recovery, produced by History.
Following a statement from a pilot witness, National Transportation Safety Board investigated the airplane crash, reporting the circumstances of the accident: ‘When the airplane was on a short final approach about 15 ft above the runway, it suddenly turned 90° to the right, in what the witness estimated was a bank angle of about 30° to 40°. The airplane continued at a low altitude toward the north perimeter of the airport where it impacted a stand of trees, then proceeded through the trees before coming to rest upright on the south shoulder of an interstate highway.
Shortly thereafter, a post-crash fire erupted and consumed the airplane.’
Unfortunately, investigations post-accident didn’t reveal its cause: ‘Examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The reason for the sudden right turn while on short final approach could not be determined during the investigation.’
Darrell’s family revealed the unfortunate news on his Facebook official page, stating: ‘things Darrell loved most were his family including his kids and grand-kids & trucking’. Fans and executives of History channel offered their condolences.
Darrell Ward was known in his community for being a charitable man.
He helped local authorities in Montana fight forest fires, collected funds and donated his own to help victims of the Louisiana Floods. At the time of his death he was scheduled to appear as Truck Convoy’s Marshall to collect funds for Special Olympics in Nova Scotia.
A month after Darrell’s death, Truck Convoy announced a special memorial tour to honor Ward, with his son’s Reno participation. Celebrated on 24 September, The Darrell Ward Tribute Tour featured other TV stars and friends of Darrell such as Marc Springer, Todd and Tamera Sturgis, Bruce Lacasse, and Darrell’s manager Bob Stanton.
Stanton spoke about how important the event was for Ward: ‘Traveling to Nova Scotia and being the Convoy Marshall for the 2016 Convoy for Special Olympics Nova Scotia was an important cause for Darrell.
The day prior to his accident he and our team had a conversation about how excited he was to travel to Eastern Canada for his first time to meet his fans and the athletes. We knew that Darrell would want us to follow through on his commitment to his fans and this event’.
When Stanton proposed his team’s participation in Ward’s tribute, the response he obtained was unsurprisingly promising: ‘everyone was on-board to make this tribute a success in his memory’.
Reportedly truck drivers are paid from $20,000 to $80,000 per ice road driving season, which can last from six weeks up to several months.
Despite it being a considerably generous remuneration, it tries to compensate for the dangers this work encounters.
Besides Darrell’s ice road trucker salary, he was paid for his appearances in “Ice Road Truckers” as well, so Darrell’s Ward estimated net worth at the time of his death was over $500,000.
Darrell Ward was man of white ethnicity, with handsome features, brown eyes and hair. Although his weight and stature are unknown, he was of strong build.
He appeared in the magazine “Parts Service”.
A self-proclaimed “adrenaline junkie”, Darrell liked outdoors’ activities and was always up for risky but exciting adventures.
His friends and family said his motto “any road, any load” described his personality perfectly.
Report of Darrell’s accident made by National Transportation Safety Board, states airplane crashed was lead by a commercial pilot with years of experience. However, Ward’s death statement posted in his Facebook page reads: ‘he (Darrell) and his co-pilot crashed and lost their lives’. This has caused confusion on whether or not Ward was piloting the plane, as his only known profession was as trucker.
Chuck Campbell, who was Darrell’s close friend, declared to Fox411: ‘To know Darrell Ward was an honor and a privilege that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. We say good-bye to an amazing man who made everyone around him feel special. Part of me died with him’.