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How a Truck Driver Frozen to the Pavement Underneath His Rig for at Least Six Hours Survived


"Whoever this is, whatever you do, don’t hang up the phone."

(Image source: WXIN)

When Tim Rutledge, a truck driver from Orlando, Fla., got going for the day Monday morning, there was no mistaking that he was quite far from home.

A snowstorm caused him to pause his special delivery run at a truck stop in Whiteland, Ind. — about 20 minutes south of Indianapolis. After the snow subsided, Rutledge was ready to get back on the road at about 6 a.m.

The truck stop in Whiteland where Rutledge was stuck to the frozen ground for hours. (Image source: WXIN-TV)

But there was another problem: His brakes were frozen.

So Rutledge did what many truckers likely would have done in that circumstance: He crawled underneath his rig to check the brakes out for himself.

But while he was laying on the ground, the truck shifted in the snow...and the nightmare began.

“It caught my left side and my left arm was pinned by the axle of the truck,” Rutledge told WXIN-TV in Indianapolis.

And that wasn't all. “I wound up being frozen to the pavement in the snow,” Rutledge said. “As I got colder and colder, I was yelling but nobody could hear me.”

Rutledge ended up being trapped underneath his rig in the sub-freezing temperatures for six to eight hours.

Then an odd thing happened, something that only cell-phone technology can take credit for.

Rutledge’s phone was in his pocket and he was getting frantic calls from his wife. With each call the phone was vibrating and moving, vibrating and moving.

Finally it came out of his pocket and dropped to the ground.

“When the phone did finally come out, it came in front of me instead of behind me,” Rutledge told WXIN.

He was too cold to dial, but the station reported that Rutledge was able to get his voice function operating. He was able to make one call.

“I remember saying, I said ‘Whoever this is, whatever you do, don’t hang up the phone,'” Rutledge recalled.

The voice on the other end of the line was likely more welcome in that situation than his wife: It was Rutledge's supervisor. Soon a call came into the truck stop, and employees there dialed 911 and headed outside to find Rutledge.

“I said, ‘I just can’t hold on any longer’ and that was the last thing I remember saying,” Rutledge noted to WXIN.

The truck stop employees located Rutledge and got emergency workers to him. They cut him out of his frozen clothes and took him to a hospital.

Tim Rutledge (Image source: WXIN)

Because Rutledge was underneath a running engine, presumably offering some heat, he'll be released from the hospital without frostbite or serious injuries.

“Somebody’s looking out for me. I don’t know how I would up being so lucky,” Rutledge said.

Here's the report from WXIN:



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