Ada, Mich. — “There was no place to go,” said Jeff Rennell of Ada. “No place to go and we were just spinning.”
Rennell was coming home from a work trip in the Chicago area when he hit the stretch of I 94 that quickly turned into a haunting image of twisted metal and cars piled on top of one another.
“Snow came across the road,” said Rennell. “Then, by the time it cleared, there was a jack-knifed semi truck blocking all three lanes of I 94.”
Rennell said he put on his brakes.
Under normal conditions, he said it would have been fine because he was 200 yards away, but it wasn’t to be.
“I put the break on and it was black Ice and I sped up when I put the break on,” said Rennell.
Then, his Ford Explorer slammed into the front of a semi.
“I piled into there,’ he said. “Then the people came and piled behind me.”
“I wedged underneath the gas tank part of the semi truck,” said Rennell.
The front part of the truck nearly wrapped around his car.
“My right passenger door was here,” he said pointing to his side. “The semi truck radiator was here,” said Rennell, pointing to his face.
“I didn`t panic,” said Rennell. “I went, ‘I`ve got my arms. I`ve got my legs. Im fine,’ but my feet were like almost shackled together. I couldn`t move them, like they were hand-cuffed at the bottom of the car.”
That’s when Rennell started yelling for help.
“The airbag went off and took my glasses and gave me a bloody nose,” he said. “After that it was really pretty quiet, people yelling for help, myself included, saying, ‘I`m over here. I`m over here’.”
From behind the shattered glass, the first responders appeared.
Rennell said they were his angels, cutting him out with the jaws of life.
“There was 15 guys trying to get me out of that car for three hours,” said Rennell. “They said, ‘We`re not leaving tonight until we get you out of this car’.”
“It was like an onion,” he said. “So, they went layer by layer by layer.”
“I was freezing. I was hypothermic. That`s why they air-lifted me out.”
“They had me bundled up here,” he said. “But, not down here. The radiator kept me warm strangely enough for awhile.”
He aid he wanted to personally meet the man named Wes who gave him a knife which helped him to cut himself out of his seat-belt. Rennell said Wes also helped to keep the mood lighter while they tried to get him out.
“Wes, I`m going to meet him. I`m going to meet him again,” said Rennell. “Because he said, ‘We`re going to have a beer.’ …And, I`m like, ‘Your dang right we`re going to have a beer together.’ They were phenomenal.”