Wife's Calls Save Man Pinned Under Frozen Truck

Trapped trucker survived 8 hours in the cold

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 10, 2014 12:17 AM CST | Updated Jan 10, 2014 2:00 AM CST

(Newser) – A Florida truck driver who became trapped under his vehicle in sub-zero temperatures at an Indiana truck stop very early on Monday survived thanks to a wife who wouldn't stop calling. Tim Rutledge, 53, went under his truck to loosen ice from his brake pads when the vehicle shifted in the snow, pinning him to the ground with his cell phone in his pocket—but out of reach. With nobody able to hear his cries for help over the sound of engines (though he tried to yell to trucks "about 10 feet from me"), he was trapped for around eight hours. And with temperatures as low as 10 degrees below zero, doctors say another hour would probably have killed him, the AP reports.

But Rutledge's wife, alarmed that he hadn't made his usual early-morning call, had been repeatedly calling his cell phone. After dozens of calls, the vibrations shook loose the phone in his coat pocket to where he could reach it and call for help. "If it would have gone behind me, I wouldn't be talking to you today," Rutledge tells the Orlando Sentinel. "I would have frozen to death." Rescue workers had to cut him out of his frozen clothes and he spent two days in hospital, but while he is still numb on the side where the axle pinned him, the vehicle shielded him from the wind enough for him to avoid frostbite. (Click for another unusual tale to emerge from the cold.)

Tim Rutledge, 53, of Orlando, Fla., says he crawled under this tractor-trailer before dawn Monday to fix its frozen brakes when it suddenly settled deeper into the snow, pinning him beneath an axle.   (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Truck driver Tim Rutledge talks with the media after being released from hospital in Indianapolis yesterday.   (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
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