March 14, 2023
By Mike Harris – Special to The Alpine Mountaineer
Photos by Aaron Creighton
They came mostly from Utah, a convoy of snow removal equipment operators with one purpose in mind: Help rescue snow-trapped mountain residents from what some are calling the worst snowfall in more than 100 years.
It all began on March 6 when Discovery Channel personality Dave Sparks, also known as Heavy D, put out a call to his three million social media followers.
For those who don’t know, David “Heavy D” Sparks is a Utah-based influencer and reality TV star who, with his partner, David “Diesel Dave” Kiley, stars in Diesel Brothers, a Discovery Channel show about their shop where they repair and customize trucks.
“People are actually dying,” Sparks emphatically said in his Instagram post. “Roofs are collapsing, gas is leaking, houses are catching on fire. It’s a bad situation,” he said.
Heavy D rallied his fans instantly.
“We are going to go down there and distribute food and medicines to people who haven’t been able to have their roads plowed yet,” Sparks added.
Somewhere between 30 to 40 heavy equipment operators left Salt Lake City, Utah, on March 6, heading for Crestline and the San Bernardino Mountains to help rescue stranded residents, snow-trapped in their homes.
“And it wasn’t just them, the Diesel brothers,” Trevor Leja, San Bernardino County’s deputy executive officer, told The Alpine Mountaineer. “They brought their own army of supporters, upwards of 40 heavy machines. The equipment varied from snow cats to snow blowers, and heavy equipment such as wheel loaders. They even had one man who came up from San Diego with his heavy equipment.”
Leja said the county welcomed them.
“The Department of Public Works has been greatly impacted. There are around 500 miles of county-maintained roads, and hundreds of miles of non-county-maintained roads,” he explained. “Historically, residents maintain themselves or have private contractors to help with those roads.”
The mountain roads not maintained by the county were where the snow removal volunteers really helped, Leja said.
Heavy D’s appeal touched the hearts of his many fans.
“One of the main issues is the plows came through and plowed the main roads. That created giant berms to the side streets, like 15-foot snow walls, so the side streets are still completely unplowed and people can’t get in and out,” he told his fans.
Leja said the county appreciated their efforts.
“We really saw a benefit from their efforts,” he added. “We appreciate people that have hearts as big as their hearts.”
Heavy D and his volunteers were here for two days, March 7 and 8, and made a big difference for residents.
“Any time we can get neighbors helping neighbors that’s a benefit, not just to our county crews who are working 24-7, but to the community as well,” Leja said. “The county was very appreciative of their help.”
One of the people who responded to Heavy D’s call for help was Saul Torres, owner of T’s Landscaping Services in Clearfield, Utah, who heeded the call from Heavy D and sent his landscaping crew to help.
When asked what his motivation was, Torres responded that they had been listening to Heavy D put out the call for volunteers. “This time of year is slow for landscaping in Utah. We heard Heavy D Sparks call for volunteers so I decided to go ahead and send my crew to help out.”
On March 8, they arrived at a neighborhood on Crest Forest Drive in Cedarpines Park with two skid steer loaders and a crew of men with shovels and started plowing and shoveling cars out of a six-foot berm. These neighbors had been struggling for days to even make a few inches of progress in freeing their cars from the massive berm. Heavy D’s crew made quick work of it, freeing at least five cars that had been buried under all that snow.
One of the neighbors who benefitted from this service was Diana Coles. When asked if she had ever heard of Heavy D Sparks before, she replied, “I saw mention of ‘Heavy D’ on a local website but I honestly thought it was a name they had given to one of those massive pieces of snow removal equipment.”
When asked how she felt about what these men had done for her she replied, “I was truly amazed at what was happening. I felt extremely grateful that these guys were helping us in such a huge way. Many people’s vehicles had been buried and immobilized for two weeks. I had tears in my eyes to see such an outpouring of true concern from strangers! And, I have wonderful neighbors that I am grateful for!! Thank you.”
When one neighbor asked the men from T’s Landscaping if he could give them some money, even just to reimburse them for fuel, the men declined saying, “We came here to help and this is our way of serving.”
Watch their efforts on Heavy D’s YouTube Channel
Editor’s note: Publisher Aaron Creighton contributed to this article.