GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — First responders worked for almost four hours to free a driver trapped inside his tractor-trailer Thursday on Interstate 85.
Officials said Jackson Musyoka, of Flower Mound, Texas, lost his leg in the crash.
Firefighters and rescuers worked in the heat and in poison oak for hours to save Musyoka.
They feared he would die, but reassured him the whole time that he would be OK.
Channel 9 reporter Ken Lemon learned Musyoka’s wife was on the phone with him when the crash happened.
She told Lemon she listened to the entire four-hour-long rescue on the phone.
"That was the worst ever, just to hear all of that," Tyshell Musyoka said.
She said her husband looked down for a brief moment while driving and when he looked back up the truck was swerving.
"I heard the tumbling and everything. Then it got silent for a minute, and then that's when I started hearing him screaming for help," she said.
He had no idea his wife was still on the phone, listening and worrying, until rescuers arrived. His wife heard their voices.
"The way they were doing him it pretty much eased my mind," she said.
His wife couldn't hear everything, but she heard rescuers asking for room just as they got him free.
His cell phone battery died before they took him out. She didn't get to hear them taking him up to a waiting helicopter.
"I just want to say, 'thank you so much,'” his wife said.
She said Musyoka is weak, but in good spirits.
Police are still not sure what caused the 18-wheeler to go off the interstate near Belmont Abbey.
Fireman Alex Hardee worked side-by-side with other rescuers.
“Four hours for me. That’s a first. That’s the longest that I have probably been a part of,” Hardee said.
Channel 9 learned that the trucker’s leg was so badly damaged, paramedics considered amputating it on the scene.
Hardee climbed into the rig in full turnout gear on a blistering hot day.
“Your body temperature, no matter how much you sweat, you can’t drink enough water,” Hardee said.
Fire crews took turns so that they didn't overheat, going up and down a steep hill.
Cables from a large wrecker kept the truck from sliding further down hill.
"We have a job to do. We signed up to do this. We trained for this,” Hardee said.
He said for four hours firefighters and police focused on the trucker trapped inside.
"Keeping him abreast of the steps were taking to extricate him. Just more or less talking to him and keeping him calm,” he said.
They had to remove the floor of the rig to pull him out.
Hardee helped take the driver back up the hill to a waiting medical helicopter.
“We were excited. We were glad that he was out. Then we got right back into the mode of, ‘We got to get him out of here,’” Hardee said.
They saved his life, but the damage to his leg was too severe. Doctors at the hospital amputated his leg.
One officer said it’s still a success. He said in 29 years he has never seen a rescue last so long and still have the patient survive.
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