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UPDATED: Breakdowns mark beginning of third humanitarian mission to Mexico

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on June 15, 2009 at 1:23 pm with No Comments »
June 15, 2009 1:23 pm

What a surprise … it’s not been a smooth start for a team of South Sound residents who are driving 10 used emergency vehicles to a handful of Mexican towns.

Two vehicles have broken down, hours have been spent in small towns and there was a rain storm in the mountains.

But the good news is, it appears they are planning to cross the border today.

The 22 volunteers pulled out of a Gig Harbor on Saturday morning for the third “Mission to Mexico” trip. Besides the vehicles, which include four patrol cars, a fire truck and ambulance, they’ll be delivering medical supplies, soccer equipment, computers and other emergency services gear.

Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer, and three-time mission volunteer, has been delivering on his promise to Twitter from the road. He’s sent 24 dispatches since they headed south. We’ve requested some photos but haven’t gotten any yet. (The photo included here is from the first Mission to Mexico trip.)

It’s been a bit of a comical start – at least to us back here at home.

“We are on the freeway heading south after a rough start,” states a Twitter message at 9:51 a.m. Saturday. “We are passing through Morton.”

It appears the man who spearheaded the humanitarian mission after a trip to his hometown of Ayulta four years ago – Jose Lopez – was having fun.

“Making good time will make up for the late departure jose driving fire truck he’s happy as a 5 year old Xmas morning,” states a Twitter message at 12:59 p.m. Saturday.

The first break down occurred less than four hours later near Grants Pass. It was the fire truck.

“We are back up and running as a group thanks to a kid at the gas station who helped us after the mechanics failed,” states a Twitter message at 6:16 p.m. Saturday.

“Now we need to make up 3 hours on grants pass,” states a Twitter message at 6:52 p.m. Saturday, “now should be in california by 7 30 if we get through the rain storm have great photos.”

The truck lasted only a couple of hours, then broke down again.

“Bad news fire truck dead again we sent everyone on down south,” states a Twitter message at 10:09 p.m. Saturday, “jose hauge phil and i are stuck in a town called weed for the night.”

The truck and crew got back on the road an hour later. It appears the driving was smooth.

For awhile.

Sunday morning, the air pump of the ambulance blew up. A crew found the parts to fix it but they were 12 hours behind schedule.

“Good news the other 8 vehicles are a few hours away from tucson and will be ready to go tomorrow for the border,” states a Twitter message Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the ambulance was getting fixed.

“Well the mechanic started the ambulance,” states a Twitter message about 3 p.m. Sunday, “the problem was he left his tools in the engine compartment a wrench wrapped around the transmission.”

“Transmission line and tore it off dumping all the fluid in their parking lot. So here we sit again,” another quickly-posted message states.

The ambulance and crew got moving again and made it to Los Angeles on Sunday night.

This morning, they were steaming toward the border.

“We are all up and moving about an hour from border the fire truck is in shop getting fixed right gonzo and phil stayed behind with truck,” states a Twitter message at 10 a.m.

“If things work out and we are due for that we will see Phil and Gonzo at the border and be rolling south in Mexico by 1 PM,” another message states.

There’s been no update since. That could be good news.

Or bad.

UPDATE: They’ve made it to the border. Even the fire truck is there, Troyer Twittered just before 2:30 p.m.

“At the border now we are slowed down due to permits and the large amount of items we have being told that we may hit road at 7 pm,” he posted at 2:25 p.m.

He noted the crew is a day behind schedule.

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