Car found crashed off WB I-94 near Portage with man trapped inside for several days: state police

ByLiz Nagy and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Wednesday, December 27, 2023
Man rescued from crashed car off I-94 trapped for several days: police
A man trapped in his crashed car off under the Salt Creek I-94 overpass near Portage was rescued after 2 good Samaritan fishermen found him Monday.

PORTAGE, Ind. (WLS) -- Our coverage of this story has moved here.

A man who had been trapped in his crashed truck for several days was rescued after fishermen found the wreck under an I-94 overpass Tuesday.

Indiana State Police said two fishermen - Nivardo Delatorre of Portage and his father-in-law Mario Garcia of Hobart, were walking along Salt Creek about one mile east of the Portage exit when they saw a crashed car under the bridge, hidden from plain view, under an overpass under I-94 between US 20 and State Road 249.

They looked into a 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.

"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.

Indiana State Police and good Samaritans Mario Garcia (left) and Nivardo Delatorre (right) speak about a man trapped for several days who was rescued from a crashed car Monday.

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 a man in his 20s was rescued and airlifted to a trauma center near South Bend, which is where state troopers say he is from. He has not been identified.

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," said Sgt. Glen Fifield.

Police said the man does odd jobs and handy work, and had not been reported missing. He could not reach his phone to call for help.

Police said it was "a miracle" he was alive, and noted that the weather this Christmas season has been warmer and milder than normal.