A driver was rescued just feet from frigid Lake Superior early Tuesday, hours after his vehicle plunged about 60 feet off a cliff and bounced off a boulder in Minnesota, authorities said.
The victim, who was not identified, was alert as he was taken to the hospital, witness Ken Greshowak told TwinCities.com.
"He was talking, they put blankets on him," Greshowak said. "He wasn't screaming in pain. I think the cold was his biggest enemy."
Greshowak, of Duluth, Minn., noticed a guardrail near his home was missing and soon noticed a seriously damaged car at the bottom of a hill.
"I thought somebody could be down there, so I yelled, and this guy lifts his head up out of the window," Greshowak said. "The adrenaline immediately started running."
After calling 911, Greshowak walked to the car and found a bloodied and dazed man sitting in the passenger seat wearing a T-shirt. Greshowak thought the victim may have removed his own coat after suffering from hypothermia. Temperatures in Duluth dropped as low as 17 below zero, the website reports.
"I threw my coat around him and started talking with him, telling him he would be OK until the rescue crews arrived," he said. "It only took them about 10 or 12 minutes to get there."
The man was apparently at the crash scene for at least a few hours, if not overnight. The Duluth Fire Department reported that the car’s engine was cold when rescue crews arrived.
The victim was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital for observation.
Greshowak, meanwhile, said he wasn’t prepared for such an eventful morning with a backdrop of the sun rising over Lake Superior.
"It was kind of chaotic," he told the website. "It was a surreal scene."