The 27-year-old had been trapped in the wreckage for almost a week
Two Indiana fishermen scouting a creek for potential fishing holes spotted something shiny that lead them to discover a 27-year-old man who had been fighting for his life for days inside a mangled truck under a bridge.
According to WVTM 13, Mario Garcia and his son-in-law Nivardo Delatorre were scouting Salt Creek near Portage on Tuesday, December 26, when they got a glimpse of something shiny under Interstate 94’s bridge over the creek. The curious men went to explore it and discovered it was a wrecked vehicle.
Garcia moved an airbag out of the way and saw what he thought was a dead body in the driver’s seat.
"The moment I touched the shoulder, he swung around — he woke up," Garcia said.
Garcia asked Delatorre to call for help and the two men stayed with the injured man until rescuers arrived on the scene.
"He was alive and he was very happy to see us," Garcia said. "I've never seen relief like that."
Indiana State Police Sgt. Glen Fifield said at a state police news conference that Matthew R. Reum of Mishawaka, might have been in the wrecked vehicle for a week and suffered some "severe, potentially life-threatening injuries."
Reum drank rain water while trapped in the truck. "The will to survive this crash was nothing short of extraordinary," police said in a news release.
"It's a miracle that he's alive in this weather," Fifield said. Temperatures had reached a low of 29 degrees during the time Reum was trapped.
Reum told the anglers he had been tightly pinned in his seat in the crushed truck since December 20 and unable to reach his phone.
"He says he tried yelling and screaming, but nobody could hear him. It was just quiet — just the sound of the water," Garcia said.
"He said to me that he's been there for a long time that he had almost lost all hope because nobody was there," Garcia said.
Reum was hospitalized for his injuries, police said.
Fifield said it appears his truck ran off I-94, rolled down into the creek and came to rest under the bridge. Police said they received no reports of a crash and the wreckage couldn’t be seen from the bridge.
"I looked over that bridge and you can't see it," Fifield said. "I walked down on the east side of the terrain and I am looking and I still couldn't see it."
Fifield said Reum may not have survived another night had the men not found him.
"It's cold tonight," the sergeant said. "I don't believe he would've made it through the night tonight. That's my personal opinion."
Garcia said he felt fortunate that their curiosity led them to the man.
"Is it a miracle? I don't know. But I'm just glad that we were able to find him," Garcia said.