MARYVILLE (WATE) – With broken bones and punctured lungs, Kevin Diepenbrock waited nearly 30 hours for help after his motorcycle crashed on a stretch of highway near the Tennessee-North Carolina border.
“The whole day went by and hundreds and hundreds of bikes had gone by. And they sound like they’re 50 feet away from you and there’s just nothing that you can do,” Diepenbrock, 41, told ABC affiliate WATE.
Diepenbrock and his friend, Phillip Polito, were riding their bikes the morning of Oct. 15 on the part of U.S. Route 129 dubbed “The Dragon,” which boasts 318 curves in 11 miles. The two men crashed near mile marker no. 4 when Polito, 29, braked and was hit by Diepenbrock’s bike, causing both to veer off the road, over an embankment and down a steep hill, according to Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Polito was killed after landing about 50 feet down the hill. Diepenbrock fell about 105 feet but survived, according to an incident report by the Blount County Fire Protection District.
Injured and helpless, Diepenbrock recorded videos on his cellphone with shaky hands for his family after the crash. The videos were obtained by WATE.
“I f—– up, that’s all I can really say. At about 10:30 this morning. Been laying here ever since. About 50 feet down in the ravine. I just wanted to say I love you guys. Sorry I was being stupid, but you know that’s what I do,” Diepenbrock said with a hoarse voice and a bloodied face in the first video. “See you guys soon.”
By the third recording, Diepenbrock is in total darkness and struggles to speak.
“I love you,” he tells his family again.
Diepenbrock said he also tried calling out, dialing 911 and sending text messages. It wasn’t until the next day that people passing by on the roadway above heard his calls for help. They called Blount County authorities who then launched a rescue and recovery mission, roughly 27 hours after the crash.
“It’s a miracle that somebody even heard him there,” Blount County Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Jerry Phillips told ABC News today. “It’s really amazing.”
Phillips said the mission to rescue Diepenbrock and recover his deceased friend required at least six crew members, rope and a number of trips down the hill with medical supplies and equipment. Diepenbrock was found immobile and badly injured, but he was able to talk to authorities.
“Of course, the first thing he says is, ‘What about my friend,’” Phillips told ABC News.
Diepenbrock was transported to a hospital by helicopter, where he was listed in critical condition, officials said. According to WATE, he suffered 12 broken ribs, hairline fractures on his spine, two punctured lungs, scratches and bruises.
“It’s just a lot to go through, but forever thankful we are where we are,” his wife Courtney Diepenbrock told WATE.
Diepenbrock was still receiving treatment as of Friday but said he’s grateful to be alive.
“Never forget to tell people you love them. That’s all I could think about when I was down there. I never, you never say that enough,” Diepenbrock told WATE. “You never spend enough time with your family, you parents, enough time with people that are close to you.”