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Man survives 75-foot fall off Salisbury bridge

"It’s entirely miraculous. We would not anticipate the outcome from such a fall would be so positive."

SALISBURY, N.C. — It's an unbelievable story of survival. A 24-year-old Charlotte man says he is lucky to be alive after falling 75 feet in Salisbury. It happened early Wednesday morning on the Yadkin River Bridge.

It was an accident; Jeremiah Cribb was simply helping someone else on the side of I-85 when he fell while trying to avoid being hit by an 18-wheeler. 

First responders rushed to help, shocked when they found him responsive. Five different agencies worked together using a rope rescue to get him to safety.

It was an extraordinary emergency with the outcome you'd never expect.

“I was not supposed to get up," Jeremiah Cribb said over the phone to WCNC Charlotte. "Right now, I’m not supposed to be talking to you guys."

Cribb, who lives in Charlotte, was driving for FedEx when he saw someone who needed help. He didn't think twice about stopping but with cars whizzing past, he was forced to make a split-second decision.

“It was so pitch black and dark I couldn't see it," he said. "I didn’t know when I jumped I was actually going to be falling 75 feet down. I just thought I was landing on the median."

But there’s a gap between the north and southbound lanes. He fell over the bridge and landed in the dirt, surprisingly able to get up and walk.

First responders were not expecting that when they got there.

"It’s entirely miraculous," said Battalion Chief Nicholas Martin, with the Salisbury Fire Department. "We would not anticipate the outcome from such a fall would be so positive."

Along with several other agencies, they used a rope rescue, something they train for but rarely use.

Firefighters were able to get to Cribb relatively quickly.

"We just shared a couple personal moments and let him know he was alright and just kept telling him he was doing great and we'd get him out of there,” said Jacob Vodochodsky, a firefighter with the Salisbury department who repelled down the bridge.

Cribb has fractured ribs and a collapsed lung and will be in the hospital for a few days. Still, he doesn't regret stopping to help.

“I just like to do it and go on with my day knowing I did something to help someone out. Unfortunately, it had to go this way with me coming off a bridge," he said while laughing. "I just have to add a little humor you know. This right here just shows you life is too short."

He says the first thing he's going to do when he gets out of the hospital is help somebody else.

Rowan County Emergency Services says, starting in March, they are launching a specially trained task force made up of several different agencies trained to respond exactly this way. Chief Chris Soliz said this is the perfect example of why this is necessary.

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