Driver survives interstate fiery crash

November 2, 2009 5:40:23 PM PST
Interstate 40 crash survivor Robert Leffer is sharing his story of recovery eight months after his accident.Leffer is still recovering at the Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill.

Eight months ago, the Sanford man said he was driving a tractor trailer full of trash when he swerved to miss a multi-car crash on I-40 and ended up in the woods.

"Within seconds I heard an explosion and I knew it was my two tanks behind me," Leffer said. "All the sudden my glass, every glass in there exploded and I turned my head from the heat and took a deep breath and went to go out the door and my foot was caught under the pedal and it was by God's grace, an angel or something, because when I went to go and get out, I knew within seconds I was fixing to burn alive and I just cried out to the Lord and said God please my wife and son just went through my mind. All the sudden my foot just let loose and I was walking out to a wall of fire. Next thing I know people were just coming at me to smother me and spraying me with a fire extinguisher."

Leffer ended up in a medically induced coma for three months at the Jaycee Burn Center.

He's had multiple skin grafting surgeries since, having suffered second and third degree burns over 80 percent of his body.

His 2-year-old son wasn't allowed to see him for the first six months he was in the hospital.

"There's a song that I would sing to him, Daddy loves his little boy, little boy, little boy, so much and he remembered that even though he saw me disfigured, he knew I was his daddy," Leffer said.

Now he's pushing himself to reach a goal he set with his doctors.

"I told him my goal is to be home for Christmas and he looked at me and he said that's a good goal and later on he came back and told me that's a promise," Leffer said.

Once Leffer leaves the Jaycee Burn Center, he'll be back for several more surgeries and several more years of therapy still ahead of him.

He said he believed he would not have lived to do so, if it hadn't been for strangers helping on the highway.

"I just want them to know, God bless them," Leffer said.

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