An Indiana man who crashed his truck and had been trapped inside it for nearly a week was found alive on Tuesday by two fishermen who happened to spot the wrecked vehicle.
The fisherman – Nivardo Delatorre and his father-in-law Mario Garcia – noticed the crashed truck under an overpass on Interstate 94 as they were walking along Salt Creek in Portage, Indiana, looking for fishing holes. They initially believed they had seen a dead person inside the vehicle until one of them touched the body and the man turned his head and spoke to them.
“I went to touch it, and he turned around,” Garcia said at a press conference. “And it almost killed me there because it was kind of shocking.”
“He was alive, and he was very happy to see us — I’ve never seen a relief like that,” he added. “He says that he tried yelling and screaming, but nobody would hear him. It just was quiet, just the sound of the water.”
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The two good Samaritans called 911 and first responders rushed to the scene at about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday. The driver told the fisherman he had been stranded and paralyzed in place since Dec. 20.
The driver, identified as 27-year-old Matthew Reum, was heading westbound on Interstate 94 when his truck left the roadway for unknown reasons, Indiana State Police said in a news release.
The vehicle was driven into a ditch before making it into a creek and stopping under the bridge. Reum was pinned inside the vehicle and was unable to reach his cellphone to call for help.
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The Portage Fire Department and Burns Harbor Fire Department were able to cut Reum from the vehicle using heavy machinery. He was then flown to a hospital in critical condition for treatment of severe, life-threatening injuries.
The rescue effort lasted several hours because of the difficult terrain and the way he was trapped inside the truck.
“They had a very difficult time getting down into the creek area with their equipment basically to cut him out and remove him,” Indiana State Police Sgt. Glen Fifield told reporters.
Reum had not been reported missing and there were no reports of a crash in the area before the fishermen found him.
“Quite frankly, it’s a miracle that he’s alive. In this weather, we’ve been lucky enough here this Christmas season, that our temperatures have been, as you all know, above normal. So that was working in this individual’s favor. Last year we had freezing cold,” Fifield said.