Brandon Wright, the college student who was rescued Monday from beneath a burning car in Logan, Utah, said he was "forever in debt" to the crowd of people who risked their own lives to save him.
"They're definitely heroes," Wright said at a news conference Thursday at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, where he is recovering from broken bones, burns, road rash and a host of other injuries from an accident that has attracted international attention.
The saving of 21-year-old Wright has gone viral on the Internet, fueled by dramatic video of the rescue captured by an office worker in a nearby building. As the video shows, just seconds after Wright grounded his motorcycle to avoid a collision with a black BMW and slid under the burning vehicle, an ad hoc rescue team gathered to lift the car off him.
Wright has since seen the video of Monday's accident, describing the experience of seeing himself and his unlikely rescue as "crazy."
"I looked dead," he said. "It's surreal to see yourself like that."
Wright said he had gotten on his motorcycle that day to make a quick trip to the computer center at the Utah State University campus, where he is studying graphic design. He didn't bother putting on his helmet for the three to four mile journey, because he was in a hurry.
As he was riding, a BMW pulled out of a parking lot and into his path. Both vehicles burst into flames in the collision.
"I remember swerving to try to avoid the car and at the last second I laid the bike down," he said. "I blacked out and came to for about five seconds."
Wright recounted coming in and out consciousness several times, wondering how "did I even fit under here?"
It was a coincidence that Wright’s Monday morning accident occurred just 50 yards from a construction crew working on the nearby campus. Seemingly out of nowhere, students, professionals and passersby joined the workers in an on-the-spot rescue team that, by all accounts, saved Wright’s life.
After one rescuer tried unsuccessfully to lift the car, five others joined him, still unable to lift the 2-ton vehicle. But a split-second after an unidentified woman at the scene determined Wright was still alive, others arrived to pitch in. All told, about a dozen people joined in to lift the car just high enough for a construction worker to pull Wright to safety.
"That car could have blown up at any time," Wright said. "How brave they are is crazy."
Anvar Suyundikov, one of Wright's rescuers, told NBC News Tuesday that the improvised rescue team felt the heat as they lifted the car while flames danced near them. “It was very hot, hot and kind of dangerous,” Suyundikov said. “I thought (the car) was close to (exploding).”
The college student doesn't have any plans to give up motorcycle riding, and says he cried when he saw his mangled bike on the accident video. He had gotten the bike on Jan. 16, 2009, the day after his 19th birthday.
But he said he'll wear a helmet from now on, and is considering promoting motorcycle safety after he recovers, a process that doctors said Thursday will take several months.
Wright said the experience of surviving to see what should have been his death has had a profound impact on him and his outlook.
"I'd just like to live everyday like it’s my last because it might as well could be," he said.