At around 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday, contract truck driver Jeremiah Cribb pulled over on the Salisbury Bridge to help a motorist who crashed into the structure over the Yadkin River, WBTV reports.
While helping the stranded driver, Cribb spotted a tractor-trailer approaching them, WSOC-TV says. Out of instinct, the Good Samaritan went to jump out of the way.
“When I realized he was going to hit the car, I just reacted on instinct,” he told the broadcast station. “It’s pitch-black dark. I thought I was hopping over a median. I just started free-falling.”
What Cribb thought was a median with road on the other side was actually the edge of the bridge. He jumped off accidentally, falling 23 metres onto rocky terrain.
The Salisbury Fire Department tweeted about the incident, sharing photos of his 45-minute rescue.
Cribb was lifted out of the sandbed by a crane, and transferred to a local hospital after sustaining serious injuries from the fall, their tweet says.
Firefighter Jacob Vodochodsky rappelled down the bridge to save Cribb, fearing the worst: that he was paralyzed. With a quick pinch of Cribb, Vodochodsky determined he wasn’t.
“He didn’t know what happened. He had no clue where he was at. We shared a couple of personal moments and let him know he was all right,” the firefighter told WBTV. “We kept telling him he was doing great and we’d get him out of here.”
Cribb suffered three fractured ribs and a collapsed lung, WSOC-TV reports.
“I just thank God I’m alive,” Cribb told the station. “Words can’t describe it. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.”
Salisbury Fire Battalion Chief Nicholas Martin said his survival was a miracle.