Armed with only pry bars, specialists Darrel Morris and Roy Adair of the Nevada Army National Guard hiked up to the white Bronco stuck on S Hill and managed to move it another 60 feet down the hill before a winch was used to pull it the rest of the way on Saturday.
Morris used his belt to secure the steering wheel and Adair put the transmission in neutral before they used their legs to push the rig down the hill. After it got stuck in a ravine, they turned to the winch.
The 45,000-pound winch, mounted on a 900 Series 5-ton wrecker truck, pulled the Bronco over a sea of sage brush and several-hundred pound boulders. The truck rolled over three times before it came to a rest at the bottom of the hill, leaving a trail of speaker covers and Jack in the Box wrappers.
The 1986 Bronco had been stuck on S Hill since Aug. 20, when a high school student got it stuck coming down from the top -- an area off-limits to vehicles.
Before the Army Guard arrived on the scene Saturday, the truck was a mess. All the windows were either shattered or entirely missing, the seats were gone, tires all flat, rims bent and broken glass and clothing littered the inside. The front bumper was lodged under a several-hundred-pound rock surrounded by empty cigarette packs above it on the hill.
"Glad it's not my truck," remarked Sgt. Pool, the highest ranking Guard member on the scene.
As it neared the bottom, Spec. Adair pulled it for a while with the wrecker.
"Once you get to the bottom, stop and shorten the chain so we don't drag it over all this brush," yelled Pool.
Although the Bureau of Land Management had considered enlisting a helicopter to remove the truck, in the end the job was left to the 150th Maintenance Co. Recovery Section -- the same guys who have hauled all the abandoned cars from Carson and Brunswick canyons and around Mexican Dam.
"We've pulled probably 400 cars out in the last seven years," Pool said.
"This is one of the fun ones," Spec. James Galyan said. "Usually we're just out picking them up out there by the river where everybody goes shooting."
After the recovery crew pulled it down the hill, they used a crane on the wrecker to lift it onto another five-ton flat bed truck and hauled it away.
As the troops looped chains around the twisted roof of the Bronco, a jogger ran by and hollered "Thank you" to the crew for removing the eyesore.
"This is great," said District Law Enforcement Ranger Stan Zuber who watched the action with his son, Daniel. "It's part of their training and we get this junk out of here. They must remove 30 vehicles a year."
Zuber said the teen who got the truck stuck has been cited, appeared in federal court and ordered to pay restitution. His name is not being released because he is a juvenile.
"Basically, we're going to be sending him a bill," Zuber said. "The only reason he'd be back in court is if he had a grievance with what the amount is."
The total bill is not known because the BLM has yet to survey the damage. Workers, likely fire crews, will be sent to do cleanup.
Although the teen who was driving the truck could not be reached for comment, a family friend, and employee of his father's, said it was an unfortunate situation.
"They tried to pull it up at first, but that didn't work," said Paul Tressler of Carson City. "Then they decided to take it down the hill and that's when it got stuck on the big rock."
Referring to vandals who damaged the truck while it was stuck for two months, Tressler said, "I can't believe that people would take someone else's misfortune and make it worse for the person. It was just an unfortunate mishap, that's for sure."
Residents on Gentry Way, which runs along the base of S Hill, watched from the street below as the truck was removed.
"We have watched that thing for days and days and days," Fran Tadesco said.
"I used to say they should just paint it brown and it'd be like another rock," said her husband, Dick Tadesco.