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‘They’re on the way, buddy,’ Good Samaritan reassures man trapped in wrecked truck during 911 call

By Christina Zdanowicz, Amanda Jackson and Nouran Salahieh, CNN

(CNN) — While on the phone with an emergency dispatcher, Nivardo Delatorre reassured a driver pinned in his wrecked pickup truck for days that help was on the way.

Delatorre called 911 from Interstate 94 in northwest Indiana on Tuesday, where he and his father-in-law, Mario Garcia, found a driver who said he had been stuck there for days, unable to reach his phone. Delatorre and Garcia were there searching for fishing spots when they found him.

“They’re on the way, buddy. They’re on their way,” Delatorre shouted down to the man during a 911 call obtained by CNN Thursday.

Delatorre gave information to authorities while Garcia stayed with the man, who had unknown injuries but told the men he couldn’t feel his legs. His legs might be broken, Delatorre told 911.

“You guys might need the Jaws of Life to open the doors,” Delatorre told the dispatcher. “His truck’s pretty wrecked.”

Delatorre repeated some of the details to the dispatcher, the shock and surprise evident in his voice.

“I’m surprised nobody else seen him,” he said. “There’s guys fishing down here and I just walked up and I seen the truck underneath the bridge. I thought it was kind of weird.”

Something shiny caught their eye

The pair of fishermen originally spotted something shiny in the creek while scouting fishing holes. As they approached, they saw the mangled truck.

Garcia said he pushed back the airbag, discovering a person sitting in the driver’s seat. He assumed the person was dead, he said, but he touched the man’s shoulder.

“He swung around,” Garcia said. “He woke up.”

The man in the truck – Matthew R. Reum, 27, of Mishawaka – told the fishermen he had been trapped there, tightly pinned in his seat under the bridge near Portage, since December 20, Garcia recalled later at a news conference held by state police.

By the time the fishermen found him, Reum “had almost lost all hope because nobody was there,” Garcia said the driver told him.

While they waited for professional rescuers, Reum thanked the men repeatedly, Garcia recalled: “He was alive and he was very happy to see us. I’ve never seen relief like that.”

He has a long road to recovery

Once emergency crews arrived, they had a hard time getting the equipment to the accident site, Indiana State Police Sgt. Glen Fifield said at a news conference.

I-94’s westbound lanes at mile marker 20 had to be closed Tuesday afternoon as crews worked to free the driver and get him to a helicopter. Reum made it to a hospital hours later, police said.

Reum, a welder, has “always been a positive, kind and energetic person,” Boilermakers Local 374’s Brad Sievers told CNN in a statement.

He has broken bones and injuries to his legs that could require surgeries, according to Reum’s union of eight years and a GoFundMe account started to help with his medical bills and recovery.

Reum’s condition was upgraded to serious Thursday evening at Memorial Hospital of South Bend, Beacon Health System said in a statement. CNN reached out to the union Thursday for updates.

A statement released on behalf of Reum said he “wants to thank everyone for the outpouring of support and all the well wishes, including the good Samaritans who found him, the first responders and his caregivers at Memorial Hospital.”

He asked for time to process what happened and for time to rest and heal, the statement said. “Matt knows he has a story to tell, and when he is ready, he plans to share details of that experience.”

“No matter how tough things get, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, sometimes in the least expected way,” Reum said in the statement.

CNN’s Andy Rose, Caroll Alvarado, Taliah Miller and CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford contributed to this report.

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