‘The little Jeep that could’: Tahoe resident spends free time helping others weather storms

Ashleigh Goodwin /
Tony Gallardo with his 2000 Jeep Cherokee XJ connecting the winch .
Provided/Tony Gallardo

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — While most locals are hunkered down at home for the storm, one is running into the blizzard for a noble cause.

Twenty-two-year-old Tony Gallardo, who was born and raised in South Lake Tahoe, has been using his 2000 Jeep Cherokee XJ and Facebook to help people who get stuck during storms. 

The self proclaimed gear head said he enjoys wrenching on anything he can get his hands on and seeing what it can do after. His jeep was purchased and upgraded with a lift kit, an Eag bumper, 9,500 winch, and oversized tires. 

The South Lake High School graduate works as a valet captain at the Marriott in Stateline and said depending on how much its snowed while he worked he spends some time driving around looking for people to help.

When he’s not out trolling for tows, Gallardo also posts his phone number on local social media threads offering assistance to those in need.

Tony Gallardo with his 2000 Jeep Cherokee XJ.
Provided/Tony Gallardo

The satisfaction of being a “knight in shining armor” is enough for him though, Gallardo said, he is offered gratuity in most cases. 

Gallardo isn’t the only one helping, he shared that even law enforcement has stopped to assist by directing traffic for him to safely help.

About $900 was spent on the winch and bumper, according to Gallardo, with the intention to “cruise around town after work to see who’s really stuck.”

He added tourists and sometimes locals get stuck in the center berm.

The owner of Tahoe Valley Doughnuts at the Y, Karen Vong, said she was stuck twice the same night and both times Gallardo helped.

“Tony is my life saver,” Vong told the Tribune. “He didn’t charge me but I gave him a tip of $40 both times. I got a good deal, my friend got stuck and paid $300-plus. Four guys were pushing the car and even my neighbor who had a big truck and couldn’t pull me out.

“Then here comes the little jeep that could,” Gallardo said his Jeep has surprised even him once or twice.

Gallardo said he has thought of starting a business helping to recover vehicles that are stuck and may take steps to do so in the future.

For now, the real fun, Gallardo said, are the looks of amazement he gets after a successful recovery and the joy of helping his community.

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