Trapped in crashed truck, man is rescued after 6 days surviving on rainwater

His ordeal ended when two men scouting for fishing spots noticed the badly damaged vehicle

By AP

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Police rescue a man after finding his damaged vehicle on Tuesday along Interstate 94 near Portage, Indiana. — AP
Police rescue a man after finding his damaged vehicle on Tuesday along Interstate 94 near Portage, Indiana. — AP

Published: Thu 28 Dec 2023, 3:11 PM

A 27-year-old man survived for six days on only rainwater while pinned tightly inside his crashed pickup truck beneath a highway bridge in northwest Indiana, police said.

His ordeal ended when two men scouting for fishing spots on Tuesday afternoon noticed the badly damaged vehicle, its white airbag deployed, and reached inside.

“They touched the body, and the person turned their head and started talking to them. So, that got a little rise out of them,” Sgt. Glen Fifield of the Indiana State Police told local news outlets.

The truck went off Interstate 94 ahead of a bridge over Salt Creek, missing the guardrail and likely rolling several times before landing on the other side of the creek, hidden out of sight from the road above, Fifield said at a news conference.

Matthew R. Reum of Mishawaka, Indiana, was freed from the wreckage Tuesday evening by first responders working under bright floodlights, then airlifted to a hospital in South Bend with life-threatening injuries, Fifield said.

“He made it through the night. He is alive,” Fifield told The Associated Press, but said Reum remained in critical condition Wednesday morning.

Police rescue a man after finding his damaged vehicle Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023 along Interstate 94 near Portage, Indiana. — AP
Police rescue a man after finding his damaged vehicle Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023 along Interstate 94 near Portage, Indiana. — AP

Mario Garcia, one of the fishermen who found the wreck, said Reum was awake and "very happy to see us,” after being exposed to the elements since Dec. 20.

“It almost killed me there, because it was so shocking” to find him alive, Garcia said during a Tuesday news conference in the nearby city of Portage, The Times of Northwest Indiana reported.

Garcia, of Hobart, said Reum told them he had screamed and yelled for help, but only heard the “quiet sound of water.”

Reum told them his cell phone had fallen out of reach and his body was trapped, preventing him from calling for aid.

Fifield said Reum hadn't been reported missing. He said Reum drank rain water to survive his ordeal.

“Had it not been for the two individuals that were walking the creek this afternoon, this incident more than likely would have had a different outcome,” Fifield said in a news release. Reum’s “will to survive this crash was nothing short of extraordinary.”


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