‘Ice Road Truckers’ star visits Book Center

By Gretchen Andersen

Alex Debogorski said he wasn’t cold on Wednesday afternoon when temperatures dropped below 30… Alex Debogorski said he wasn’t cold on Wednesday afternoon when temperatures dropped below 30 degrees and Pitt students bundled up in thick coats and other winter garb.

“If you dress for cold weather, you won’t be very cold,” the Canadian native and History Channel show “Ice Road Truckers” star said, dressed in layers, pointing to his long johns that “go down to my toes.”

Debogorski visited campus for the first time yesterday to promote his book, “King of the Road: True Tales From a Legendary Ice Road Trucker.” The publishing company, Wiley, released the book last month.

When Debogorski entered The Book Center, the 30 fans who had waited for his arrival snapped to attention. Deborgorski patted people on the back, gave firm handshakes and greeted people on his way to the desk where he would sign books.

“Ice Road Truckers” — a documentary-style show that follows several truckers during the winter trucking season in Alaska and Canada — has been on the small screen for four seasons now, first premiering in 2007.

“When the lakes and waterways freeze, they become roadways — as they have for thousands of years for the aboriginal people — all for us to get to the communities that are cut off,” he said. Debogorski said he delivers various pieces of construction equipment for those communities.

Sophomore Ross Walter, who said his brother is a truck driver, came out to the book signing because he wanted to meet Debogorski and get a picture.

“My father and I have watched the show for two years,” he said. “I really look forward to meeting him.”

The reality TV star spent time talking to and thanking each fan as he signed their books and took a picture, wishing them a merry Christmas. Debogorski says he enjoys doing book signings.

“I enjoy the opportunity you have in life to sign an autograph, and shake someone’s hand — maybe making their day,” he said. “Plus, they spent 20 dollars on my book.”

Tom Lewandowski of Newcastle, an ex-trucker, was first in line for the book signing. Lewandowski said he has watched the show and enjoys the “challenge and difficulty of it. Because ice road trucking can be kind of like life, which has its challenges and moments.”

Lewandowski said that Debogorski seemed like a “wonderful person, very enjoyable.”

The General Book Manager of The Book Center, Russell Kierzkowski, said he was happy with the turnout and that he too was planning to get his book signed.

Debogorski said he initially got involved in ice road trucking after his wife became pregnant and he felt he needed to get a job. Sixteen jobs later, in 1972, he decided to start trucking.

“Life took over from there,” he said.

According to his book, Debogorski has been “stabbed and burned, hit by a train, run over by a truck the size of a house.”

Father to 11 children and nine grandchildren “with one more on the way,” Debogorski said he decided to write a book because he has a lot of advice and stories for people.

Anthony Pulleo, a sophomore at Pitt who reported following the show religiously, said he respects that “Debogorski puts his life into a dangerous job … he is a Christian man who values his family.”

Organizers said that originally Debogorski was going to pull his 93-foot rig in front of the William Pitt Union but wasn’t able to do so.

“I look at being a celebrity as just another job I have. As a celebrity the fans own you and expect something from me and I deliver that whether it is a little handshake or autograph,” the trucker said.

“Just like any other job, I just do it.”