PORTAGE, Ind. -- A man who was trapped in his crashed truck for several days was rescued after fishermen found the wreck under an Indiana overpass Tuesday afternoon.
Matthew R. Reum, 27, is recovering, a spokesman for an Indiana labor union, Boilermakers Local 374, and Indiana State Police said Wednesday.
Reum is described as a "positive, kind, and energetic person," by his union.
The union spokesman said they spoke with him Tuesday night.
"We are thankful Matt is alive and grateful for the men who found him. Matt's strong will and toughness speak volumes through this ordeal," the spokesman said.
Reum had to have part of his leg amputated due to his injuries, and remains in the intensive care unit, the spokesman said.
"Matthew is a great guy, always smiling, coming to work in a joyful mood. He's a hard worker, too great welder. There's not enough good things to say about the guy," his friend, Mike Ortiz, said.
Irtiz has worked with Reum as a fellow union boilermaker going from job to job. He said Reum is a talented welder.
"Our tradesmen, our union brothers, even from other crafts. I hope everybody gets together and help him. Helps him out he lost his leg, and I just hope that they kinda look at how our careers go, and that he may need some support at this moment," he said.
South Bend Memorial Hospital, where Reum is being treated, released a statement saying in part, "Matt Reum wants to thank everyone for the outpouring of support and all the well wishes, including the good Samaritans who found him, the first responders and his caregivers at Memorial Hospital."
"Matt knows he has a story to tell, and when he is ready, he plans to share details of that experience," the statement continued. "Until then, Matt has asked us to share this message, while also requesting privacy during this time for himself, his family and friends. He adds, 'No matter how tough things get, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, sometimes in the least expected way.'"
Indiana State Police said two fishermen - Nivardo Delatorre of Portage and his father-in-law Mario Garcia of Hobart, were scouting for fishing spots when they saw a crashed car under Interstate 94, hidden from plain view, under an overpass.
They looked into the car and found a man inside. Garcia said they thought he was dead and reached out to touch him to confirm, when the man woke up, turned his head toward them and began to speak.
"They touched the body, and the person turned their head and started talking to them. So, that got a little rise out of them," Sgt. Glen Fifield with Indiana police said.
"He had a jacket almost like mine, and all I seen was this part, the shoulder. The moment I touched the shoulder, he swung around. He woke up," Garcia said.
The two good Samaritans called 911. They said the driver told them he'd been stranded and paralyzed in place since last Wednesday.
"One more day and something could have been very different here," Garcia said.
"We were put there for a reason," said Delatorre.
State police said Reum was rescued and airlifted to a trauma center.
State police said he was trapped for several days, possibly up to a week, and has life-threatening injuries. They said the effort to extricate him from the wreck was complex and took several hours.
"They had a very difficult time getting down into the creek area with their equipment basically to cut him out and remove him," Fifield said.
Police said the man had not been reported missing. He could not use his phone to call for help after it had fallen out of reach and his body was trapped.
Police said it was "a miracle" he was alive, and noted that the weather this Christmas season has been warmer and milder than normal.
"Had it not been for the two individuals that were walking the creek this afternoon, this incident more than likely would have had a different outcome," Fifield said in a statement. Reum's "will to survive this crash was nothing short of extraordinary."
Police also said Reum was able to drink rainwater to help him survive.
Reum's union said he has been a member since 2015 and was originally a member of his union in Tennessee before moving to the South Bend area in Indiana in 2021.
He is a welder, among other things, and a good asset to his trade, the spokesman said.
"Since I have known Matt, he has always been a positive, kind, and energetic person. We will continue to pray and support our brother as he begins his recovery. We thank God that Matt is still with us," the spokesman said.
"No matter how tough things get, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, sometimes in the least expected way," Reum said in the statement.
A close friend set up a GoFundMe for Reum, which had already raised over $3,000 as of Wednesday morning.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.