4x4 enthusiast turns 'hero' driving snowed-in health-care staff to work on Vancouver Island
Before he was known as Barto Built, sharing his backcountry 4x4 adventures on YouTube, Bart Sutherland was known as a "rock-crawler," driving his truck over seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
"All of a sudden your tires hook and over the top you go!" Bart says, before showing me a photo of him driving over an almost vertical rock face. "It almost makes you speechless!"
And then having a baby actually does. So Bart, now known as, "Dad," shifted gears.
But then, during a commute to support his family, Bart experienced the collision that changed his life.
"Basically [an RV] hit me so hard I was ejected from the vehicle," he says, showing me photos from the scene of the accident.
Bart has no memory of his truck being mangled, his body being mutilated, or his prognosis being bleak
"They prepared my wife and family for what would be very little quality of life," Bart says.
Yet, after waking from a coma after two weeks, Bart did recognize his baby boy.
"The first real memory I have is hugging him," Bart says.
While his son provided the motivation to keep going, Bart says what the health-care workers who saved his life provided is indescribable.
"It’s something I will never be able to reciprocate," he says.
More than eight years after the accident, Bart’s physical challenges and traumatic brain injury are manageable. But his mental health struggles are often overwhelming.
"I lost my career. I lost my ability to pick up my kids," Bart says fighting back tears. "The loss of self is something I’m still chasing."
But then, there was an unprecedented snowfall over the holidays, and Barto saw a call to help stranded health-care workers on social media.
It inspired this motor-head with a mullet to hit the road and be called a hero.
"They say, 'Not all heroes wear capes.' My response is, some grow them," Bart laughs, before running his hand through the long ginger hair growing past his shoulders. "This is my cape!"
Over nine days, Bart says he volunteered to drive more than 100 health-care staff to work, travelling 2,800 kilometres, and spending $1,000 of his own money on gas.
Afterwards, he came to a priceless realization.
"I finally recognized where my meaning and purpose is," Bart says, tears welling. "The meaning and purpose I have been desperately searching for [since the accident]."
Bart says he’s found that practicing kindness, being selfless, and giving back to the people who saved him is proving to be the 4x4 adventure of a lifetime.
"The extreme stuff would get you excited and get the blood going," Bart says. "But this got everything going. This made me feel whole."