A Pennsylvania man crawled to safety in Indiana this week after being trapped in a wrecked car for three days as his girlfriend, who did not survive the crash, lay in the next seat.
Kevin Bell, 39, was driving from Dover to Indiana with his girlfriend, Nikki Reed, Sept. 17 when the 1999 Ford Explorer they were in swerved off a highway, went down an embankment, and struck a tree head on, Indiana State Police said.
"I looked away for not even a second and then I thought I hit the brake, but it was actually the gas and we went down," Bell said in a phone interview with NBC News Friday.
Reed, who Bell said was not wearing a seat belt, was killed instantly. Bell survived the impact but his legs were badly injured.
He did not have strength to get out of the truck due to the debilitating pain. "I couldn’t move. My shins felt broken in four places, there was pain everywhere," he said.
But he also couldn’t leave his girlfriend.
"I was in tears. I felt uncomfortable being in the truck with her, but I didn’t want to leave because I kept thinking about what happened to her," Bell said. "We were like two peas in a pod, that’s how in love we were.”
For the next three days, Bell survived by taking sips of Gatorade left in the car from a previous gas station stop.
By the third day, he decided to gather his strength and his belongings, and crawl up to the highway to get help.
He had to do it for her, he said.
"I was on my hands and knees up the ravine. It took me four hours,” Bell said. "I would go five steps and then stop, and kept going like that."
Bell finally reached the guardrail off the highway Tuesday where he was spotted by a bystander, several hours later, who gave him his cellphone to call 911. Indiana State Police said they were called to the scene of the crash at around 5 p.m.
The couple was on their way to Indiana to attend Reed’s son’s birthday party. State police say Reed’s family reported her missing when she didn’t show up for the event, and a missing person investigation was launched Sunday.
The wrecked vehicle off U.S. 50 near the county line between Jennings and Ripley counties was “well off the roadway and not visible from the road."
Reed’s family set up a YouCaring page to raise money for her funeral. The page has already garnered $2,359 of their $5000 goal.
Bell said they were planning on a future together and starting a family soon. "We had everything planned, we were going to get our lives all straightened out," he said.
Indiana State Police said this week an investigation into the crash is ongoing.