Indiana rescue team meets with crash victim who spent 6 days trapped in car

ByJustyna Syska & Jordan Arseneau Localish logo
Tuesday, March 12, 2024
Rescue team meets with crash victim who spent 6 days trapped in car
With his smartphone out of reach, Matt Reum spent 6 days screaming for help, after he was involved in a car crash and became trapped.A Portage, Indiana rescue team met with I-94 crash victim Matt Reum, who spent days trapped in a car. "It feels good knowing that we were part of it."

PORTAGE, Ind. -- It was all smiles and handshakes as Matt Reum was reunited with three members of the rescue team that saved his life.

The 27-year-old met with Portage Fire Department Battalion Chief Ross Steffel and firefighters, Jordan Bucy and Michael Durak, at Fire Station No. 3, located just a few miles from the crash site, where he spent six days trapped in his truck.

"It feels good knowing that we were part of it, to help save his life," said Durak, who is also a paramedic. "This is what we've trained to do, and this is what we do every day."

Reum was found by fishermen Mario Garcia and Nivardo De La Torre on Dec. 26, 2023. The two were scouting fishing spots when they spotted Reum's vehicle below the Interstate 94 Expressway.

"Yeah that's where I went camping for six days," Reum said, who had to have his left leg amputated by physicians. "From what I've been told, I went sideways, rolled twice, went through the creek and landed."

With his smartphone out of reach, Reum spent the next six days screaming for help. He said he drifted in and out of consciousness, but wasn't able to leave his truck because he was pinned between the steering wheel and seat.

"I already knew that this leg was stuck, I just didn't know to what extent it was stuck," Reum said. "You kind of lose a little sense of hope, and in a situation like that you need as much hope as possible."

Firefighter and paramedic Bucy said Reum's age and the unusually warm temperatures that week were the main factors in his survival. The night of the rescue, the weather took a turn for the worse.

"The temperature actually fell into the 20s that night," Bucy said. "Had it not been for those fishermen deciding to go look for a fishing spot that day and that moment, who knows what could have happened?"

Another saving grace for Reum was a drainage pipe under the overpass and directly above his vehicle. Water mixed with debris from the road dripped down into his truck where he could drink it.

"I was able to pull the visor down to where all the water would land on my sweatpants," Reum said. "I found out that if I drank it through sweatpants, it actually tasted tolerable."

Portage police, firefighters and Indiana State Police were dispatched to the crash site after the fishermen dialed 911. First responders were surprised to see him alive and even more surprised by Reum's disposition.

"When I made the corner, and I saw the vehicle and I looked at him, I remember he just looked at me, and he had this massive smile on his face," Steffel said.

"The entire time we were with him he was making us feel more comfortable with the situation by just talking to us," Bucy said. "He was upbeat the entire time, joking with us."

"I was jealous of all their mustaches," said Reum, who remarked that his sense of humor was due to his sense of shock about the prospects of being rescued.

Reum said he will soon get a prosthetic leg and would like to run a 5K by Thanksgiving. Not wanting to waste his experience, he said he wants to become a motivational speaker to help others mentally in the same way Steffel, Bucy and Durak help people physically.

"This will stick with me the rest of my life," Bucy said. "These calls are special, and we had a small part in this positive outcome."

Watch the show "9-1-1" at 8 p.m. ET Thursday on ABC.