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A former soldier who was so fascinated by the TV series “Ice Road Truckers” that he flew to Canada to become one, died when his giant rig careened off a frozen highway featured in the show.Brett Colley, 45, was killed when his truck came off of one of the toughest roads in the world in sub-zero temperatures and plunged down an embankment.
The former gunner had been driving his rig through the remote Pink Mountain region of Canada when the accident happened on the infamous Alaska Highway on November 13.
Mr Colley, a father-of-one, moved from Bewdley, Worcs., to Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, 18 months ago to fulfil his lifelong ambition of driving along the treacherous roads made famous by reality TV show “Ice Road Truckers.”
The programme follows HGV drivers as they cross frozen lakes and dangerously-thin ice in temperatures of minus 30 degrees in Canada and the USA.
But tragically, Mr Colley was delivering food supplies with a co-driver when their truck inexplicably left the highway close to Pink Mountain in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are currently investigating the accident and have interviewed Brett’s co-driver, who miraculously survived.
But they have told his family it may still take up to six months to discover what went wrong.
Mr Colley’s sister Alex Fidoe, 41, who now lives in Perth, Australia, said it was the show that fired his imagination.
Paying tribute to her brother, she said: “Brett loved the outdoors and adventure and he was hooked on the “Ice Road Truckers” TV show when it first came out in the U.K.
“He used to watch it religiously and about two years ago he actually applied to be on the show, but was unsuccessful.
“But typical Brett, he was undeterred and he applied for a job with H and R Transport, which has routes along the ice roads in Canada.
“He joined the company 18 months ago and at first he was doing drives through the U.S. deserts, but his goal was to get a chance to travel the ice roads.
“He finally got his chance about six months ago when they put him on the Alaska Superhighway route that takes in frozen lakes and has been featured on the TV show he loved so much.
“He was really excited when they put him on that route. He’d achieved his ambition after watching the show all those years ago.
“It made us all really proud. I told all my friends that my brother was a real-life ice road trucker.”
Mr Colley’s wife Svetlana, whom he met in London, and their four-year-old son Misha live in Russia, but the family were planning to meet up in Bewdley for a big family get-together over Christmas and the New Year.
Mr Colley’s grieving mother Rita Colley, who still lives in Bewdley, paid tribute to her “vibrant” son.
She said: “Brett was really looking forward to being reunited with his wife and son and the rest of the family.
“It was going to be a big do. Even his sister, who had emigrated to Australia, was coming home.
“He had recently applied for permanent residency in Canada and was hoping to move his family out there for good.
“His death has hit us all very hard but we know he was doing something that he really enjoyed.”
Mr Colley was employed by the North American transport company after they were impressed by his CV – which included the truck driving skills he had learned while serving with the 39th Regiment Royal Artillery 20 years ago.
Mrs Colley said: “He spent about six years in the Army after joining as a teenager, and that’s where he got his HGV licence.
“He was involved in the clean-up operation after the Falklands conflict.
“He also later did some work for the United Nations in Bosnia and Croatia. He loved the Army but he wanted to explore the world and had a real passion for travelling and adventure.
“He was a real outdoors type and enjoyed life to the full.”
His sister added: “He was a very vibrant person, full of personality. He was one of those people who lit up a room when he walked in.
“If you sent him down the street for a loaf of bread it would take him two hours because everyone he bumped into, he knew.
“He had such a big heart. He was very kind-natured and very much a family man. He was always smiling.”