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Man trapped in truck for 6 days realized he had to do one thing in life-or-death situation

Man trapped in truck for 6 days realized he had to do one thing in life-or-death situation

Matthew Reum was forced to write his own obituary when he found himself stuck for days

Warning: This article contains brief discussion of suicide which some readers may find distressing

Six days. Around 140 hours. That's how long Matthew Reum spent trapped in the confines of his truck - and there was one thing he knew he had to do to stay alive.

It's enough time for a vacation; more than an entire working week, and throughout all of it Matthew sat in the driver's seat of his mangled truck off the side of a highway, hearing countless firetrucks and ambulances pass by, but never stop.

The crash took place in Indiana last December, as Matthew, who's now 27-years-old, was driving home to attend the funeral of a friend who'd recently passed away.

Matthew's truck landed just off the highway. (Supplied)
Matthew's truck landed just off the highway. (Supplied)

He'd been awake for around 18 hours, but he'd been on the road for less than an hour when he spotted what he thought was a pair of eyes in the middle of the dark, foggy road.

Speaking to UNILAD, Matthew recalled being taught that it would be safer to hit a deer in the road than attempt to swerve it.

But he needed his truck in good shape to make sure he made it to the funeral, so he jerked the wheel to avoid the animal.

"I swerve onto the shoulder of the road, and then I go a little bit further to where I'm in the grass, kind of off the highway a little bit," he recalled.

Matthew didn't realize how badly he'd been hurt. (Supplied)
Matthew didn't realize how badly he'd been hurt. (Supplied)

"I go to merge back onto the highway. And when I did that, I ended up hitting the guardrail on the driver's side... that ended up tearing off the entire front driver side of my truck, it just completely ripped that off.

"After that, I lost all control of my truck. I started going down this hill, my truck ends up going sideways, I roll a couple times going down the hill, then I landed underneath the bridge.

"The only way you could see me was if you were under there. And that's where my six days of hell started."

Obviously Matthew didn't know at the time that it would be six days before he'd leave his truck again, but he realised 'pretty quickly' he'd been badly injured in the crash.

The steering wheel had been pushed into his leg to the point where he could no longer feel it, and his right hand was 'pretty messed up'.

He would later have to undergo a partial amputation on his leg, as well as operations on his hand that had completely shattered.

Unable to move from under the steering wheel, Matthew struggled to find his phone which had previously been lying on the passenger seat.

He couldn't call 911, and there was no response to him repeatedly hitting his horn, let alone calling out for help.

"I tried starting my truck back up, and nothing," he recalled. "It was probably about midnight. I kind of already knew in the back of my mind, I'm like, 'something's messed up'.

Matthew's truck was completely destroyed. (Joe Wagner/Supplied)
Matthew's truck was completely destroyed. (Joe Wagner/Supplied)

"My left leg was pinned, I couldn't pull it out. I couldn't open my doors. I just couldn't move."

With no way out, Matthew began to focus on one thing.

"One of the things that I was trying to stay aware of was my own sanity," he explained. "I wanted to make sure that I didn't get go crazy while I was down there. In a life or death situation, that is something that you have to keep a hold of."

For Matthew, his way of staying 'sane' was to write things down using a notepad and pen he found within reach. He listed three main goals to try and aid in his rescue: find his phone, make sure his phone worked, and call for help.

To help give himself as much chance as possible of achieving these goals, Matthew began pulling apart his truck as best he could to give himself more room to move.

Matthew wasn't sure if he'd ever be rescued. (Heidi Prescott/Beacon Health System)
Matthew wasn't sure if he'd ever be rescued. (Heidi Prescott/Beacon Health System)

He also fashioned a kind of sponge out of a pair of sweatpants he had in the truck to soak up water dripping through the smashed sunroof, which he then squeezed into his mouth to stay hydrated.

After a few days, however, Matthew began to lose hope.

"I think one of the darkest times that I had while I was down there was [after] I had tried probably for a solid three hours to get this paring knife that was on the ground so I could try to either cut some of the [seed out] or try to - as gruesome as it would have been - amputate my own legs," he said.

"This was day three, or four. So, I had already lost a lot of hope, just being down there for that long and yelling so much for help."

A couple of times during his ordeal, Matthew even attempted to take his own life - efforts he's now so glad didn't work.

This is the seat where Matthew spent six days. (Joe Wagner/Supplied)
This is the seat where Matthew spent six days. (Joe Wagner/Supplied)

Finally, on his sixth day of being trapped in his truck, Matthew saw a sight he never expected - there was a hand at his window.

The sight came on what he feels was 'the last day of hope' for him. He'd started writing his own obituary - one of the most 'terrifying', 'eye-opening' experiences he's ever had - and his body was telling him he 'wasn't going to be rescued'.

"And so I look over, and I see somebody's hand. And it was kind of a surreal experience," he said.

He recalled wondering if he was 'hallucinating', but he wasn't. Two men who had been fishing in the river near where Matthew's truck had landed had spotted the truck, and come to Matthew's rescue.

"I think within 10 minutes, there were fire trucks and ambulances," he recalled. "And for the first time in six days, they were actually stopping."

Matthew was airlifted to the hospital, and in the last few months he's been undergoing operations, rehabilitation and recovery.

Responders arrived quickly after Matthew was found. (Joe Wagner/Supplied)
Responders arrived quickly after Matthew was found. (Joe Wagner/Supplied)

He now has a prosthetic for the lower half of one of his legs, and he had to 'relearn' how to walk - something he'd never expected to have to do at just 27 years old.

He described the whole experience as 'surreal', and it only got more so when his story began to go viral.

"Going from six days of nobody been able to hear my yells, to - I can make a post on Facebook and it's seen by 25,000 people, you know, it's... insane," he said.

"It's that kind of support [that] has been life changing. Seeing that my story is making a difference, seeing that I'm able to influence or motivate and help make people's days better.

"That's been extremely beneficial, not just in the physical aspect of healing, but also in the emotional and the mental aspect of this... Being able to you know, show people that there is light at the end of the tunnel has been not only beneficial to everybody else, but very beneficial to me in terms of healing from that."

Matthew's leg was amputated after the accident. (Supplied)
Matthew's leg was amputated after the accident. (Supplied)

Having been confronted with death and made it through the other side, Matthew joked that 'death is a b*tch', before touching on what the experience has taught him.

"Having been backed into the corner where I thought death was going to be my only option, it's definitely given me a brighter perspective on life," he said.

"It's also made me realize [that] you might be tough on your own, but life's a whole lot easier when you have other people helping you.

"Having looked death in the eye, it makes you grateful for every day that you're not in that situation, but also every day that you still have going forward."

If you or someone you know is struggling or in a mental health crisis, help is available through Mental Health America. Call or text 988 or chat You can also reach Crisis Text Line by texting MHA to 741741.

UNILAD’s Survivors series sheds light on different survival experiences and the lessons learned from facing death. New interviews will be released daily beginning May 20.

Featured Image Credit: Heidi Prescott/Beacon Health System/Joe Wagner/Supplied

Topics: Mental Health, US News