Man crushed under semi-truck records his own rescue, jokes with responders

WATERVLIET, N.Y. (WTEN/CNN) - A driver in New York crushed by a 22-ton tractor trailer not only lived to tell about it, he joked with first responders and recorded his own rescue.

A wreck trapped Jelani Reyes-Craig in a sports car under a 45,000-pound semi-truck in New York. (Source: Jelani Reyes-Craig/handout/WTEN/CNN)

A wreck trapped Jelani Reyes-Craig in a sports car under a 45,000-pound semi-truck.

"It was a flour truck, so there was flour and smoke from the engine bay pouring into the car, so I'm choking, gasping for air," he said.

The 28-year-old somehow managed to remain calm through the ordeal. He said once he managed to elbow a hole through the debris, the smoke cleared.

That's when he said he cut himself out of his seat belt and wiggled over to the passenger side to get some more space.

"I remember hearing someone scream, 'Don't go under the truck!'" Reyes-Craig said. "And these two gentlemen didn't care, they went, grabbed the jaws of life and came under the truck to come get me."

One of those men was Lt. Jim Strock with the Watervliet Fire Department. He said he pulled up to the wreck bracing himself and his crew for the worst.

“Survivability rate on this is zero. No way is this guy alive,” Strock said. "And they said he’s talking. I said, ‘Get out of here!’ I go around the car, and I yell in, ‘Hey bud.’ He goes, ‘Dude, would you take my picture, this is unbelievable.’

"And I'm like, I wasn't expecting him to be alive, first of all. Second of all, he's kind of making a joke of it."

There was some initial shock, but Reyes-Craig was barely even injured.

While he patiently waited for the firefighters to free him, he pulled out his phone and started recording the incredible rescue.

He also made an important phone call to his girlfriend, Kaylea.

"He told me, 'I need you to stay calm - I'm crushed under something in the car on 787,'" she said.

She said she immediately left work and drove to the scene.

"It was one of the scariest moments ever," Kaylea said. "They had me stopped, and they were like, 'They're trying to get him out of the car now. He's a lucky man.'"

WTEN cameras captured Reyes-Craig miraculously walking away from the wreck with just a cut to his hand and a couple of missing teeth.

"He walks out of the car, and he's high fiving us on the way to the hospital," Strock said. "Unbelievable. Unbelievable."

Reyes-Craig thanked Strock and his other rescuers for going beyond the line of duty to save him.

"I appreciate it," he said. "It's definitely something I'm always going to remember."

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