Cobble Hill, BC –
Before he was known as Barto Built, sharing his backcountry 4×4 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 up and you’re going for it! Bart said, before showing me a photo of him rolling on an almost vertical rock face. “It almost makes you speechless!”
And then having a baby, it really is. So Bart, now known as “Dad”, switched gears.
But then, on a drive to support his family, Bart experienced the collision that changed his life.
“Fundamentally [an RV] hit me so hard that I was ejected from the vehicle,” he says, showing me photos of the accident site.
Bart has no memory of his truck being mutilated, his body being mutilated, or his prognosis being grim.
“They prepared my wife and my family for what would be very little quality of life,” Bart says.
Yet after waking up from a coma after two weeks, Bart recognized 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 healthcare workers who saved his life is indescribable.
“It’s something I can never reciprocate,” he says.
More than eight years after the accident, Bart’s physical challenges and traumatic brain injury are manageable. But his mental health issues are often overwhelming.
“I lost my career. I lost my ability to pick up my kids,” Bart said, holding back tears. “Loss of self is something I always pursue.”
But then there was an unprecedented snowfall over the holidays, and Barto saw a call to help healthcare workers stranded on social media.
He inspired this motorhead with a mule to hit the road and be called a hero.
“They say, ‘Not all heroes wear capes. My answer is that some grow them,” Bart laughs, before running his hand through the long red hair that grows over his shoulders. “That’s my cape!”
For nine days, Bart says he volunteered to drive more than 100 health care workers to work, driving 2,800 kilometers and spending $1,000 of his own money on gasoline.
Then it came to a priceless achievement.
“I finally understood where my meaning and purpose was,” Bart says, tears in his eyes. “The meaning and purpose I desperately sought [since the accident].”
Bart says he’s found that practicing kindness, being selfless, and giving back to the people who saved him turns out to be the 4×4 adventure of a lifetime.
“The extreme stuff would turn you on and get your blood flowing,” Bart says. “But it set it all in motion. It made me feel whole.”