ROGERS, Minn. (FOX 9) - JT Nahl drives Highway 101 in Rogers on a regular basis. But there was nothing routine about what happened on a stretch of that road on Monday afternoon.
"Sore. Very sore but definitely I feel very, very lucky. If any one thing changed, things could have either gotten worse or I couldn't be here right now," said Nahl.
Nahl works for a fire and safety equipment supplier and says he was on his way home after visiting a client in Buffalo.
He says he only got about 3.5 hours of sleep the night before because he wasn't feeling well and he briefly fell asleep behind the wheel.
"It kind of caught me off guard, dozed off a little bit and when I woke up, I saw the first guard rail coming straight at me," said Nahl.
Nahl remembers his box truck hitting one guardrail, then another, before plunging into the frozen Crow River below.
He was pinned in the cab with part of his torso and head in the icy water, unable to release the seat belt around his legs.
"I panicked for a good minute there thinking okay, I'm going to drown. But luckily I kind of caught myself and it was shallow enough where I could use my left arm to prop myself up in the water and keep my head above the water," said Nahl.
Nahl says the next thing he knew, bystander Christopher Kirk grabbed him from behind and pulled him onto the flatbed of the truck, where the box had been destroyed by the crash.
But he doesn't remember seeing the good Samaritan's face because he was so focused on getting to safety.
"I heard him say, hey, are you okay? I was like, yeah. All right. Let's get out of here," said Nahl.
Nahl says he is amazed he was able to walk away from the crash with only a few bruises and he has some words of thanks for the man who helped rescue him.
"I definitely think he's a true American hero because he definitely didn't have to stop or a baseball slide down the hill to come and help me out, but nothing stopped him and he was the first one there," said Nahl.