MISSOULA, Mont. (CBS Charlotte/AP) — A South Carolina man was trapped in a rental car with a broken neck and other injuries for more than a day after the vehicle went off a forest road and rolled down an embankment in western Montana.
Shaun Lee of Moncks Corner, S.C., said he was upside down for over 33 hours, pinned by the steering wheel, as he waited for help and prayed in the crashed car. He told his story to the media Monday from a Missoula hospital, where he was recovering.
“I thought I was dead, dying or pinned … or all three,” Lee told the Billings Gazette.
Lee, 30, said he had traveled from South Carolina to North Dakota to look for work in the oil fields, then decided to continue on to Montana to visit an aunt in Missoula.
He said he was looking for a motel west of Missoula when he took a wrong exit and a few wrong turns and found himself coming down a slope on a wet dirt road at 12:15 a.m. Aug. 1.
“Emergency brake on, got the foot brake on,” recalled Lee, “It’s going faster and faster. Next thing I know she flipped upside-down and boom.”
Lee said he yelled, honked the horn and prayed in hopes of being found.
“I did say my ‘Our Fathers’ and ‘Hail Mary Full of Graces,’” Lee said.
At about 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 2, Forest Service employee Benji Hegg spotted Lee’s car and called for help.
“He sat right there outside my window and kept me level-headed,” Lee said. “He saved my life.”
Other rescuers responded and cut Lee out of the vehicle. Taylor Blakely, a member of Frenchtown Rural Fire, said responders placed Lee on a backboard and carried him up the embankment. He was then taken to the hospital.
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