MARYVILLE, IL (KTVI)-- Mark Smith calls it a “thank you” long overdue. Medics at the Maryville, Illinois Fire Department see it more as a miracle. It is the meeting they had Wednesday afternoon, just five months after Mark was literally run over by an asphalt truck, suffering injuries that easily could have killed him.
Smith, using a walker, walked into the Maryville fire station looking to thank the men he had met through a haze of pain on June 7th.
“Wow. How is he walking? Honestly.” That was the first reaction of Josh Maxwell, one of the first responders who helped Smith that day.
Smith was working on a construction crew installing a roundabout on Highway 162 in Maryville. He was inspecting some asphalt that had been poured when the asphalt truck began backing up. The driver didn’t see him on the ground.
“I guess I was where I was supposed to be so you can’t say wrong place, but bad timing,” he said. “He rolled over me and drug me, what? 25 feet?
“I remember thinking, ‘God I’m yours.’ And I was expecting to wake up in Heaven any time. And when it stopped I’m thinking, ‘How did that happen? I’m still alive.’”
The Maryville firefighters rushed to the scene, and they admit when they saw him, they didn’t think he’d survive. It’s an image that will be burned in their minds forever. Mark was wedged under the massive truck with his foot rolled up in the wheels.
“It’s hard to describe. It’s not something I want to dive intobut it was not pleasant to look at,” firefighter Jason Reaka said.
But they went to work, painstakingly getting things in place to get Mark out.
“They had to spread the tires,” Smith said. “Let the air out of the tires. It was amazing all they had to do to get me out of there. It took about 40 minutes. Then they had to take the leaf spring apart to get my leg all the way out.”
And his injuries were as bad as they feared. Smith ticks them off like a grocery list.
“A broken pelvic bone and a dislocated and fractured right hip. A partially severed left foot and ankle. A crushed eye socket. Burns. Second and third degree burns over I don’t know how much. I haven’t figured it out.”
He was awake through the entire ordeal. He says he passed out once he was put into a rescue helicopter, and didn’t regain consciousness for three days. He spent more than a month in the hospital.
But Tuesday he was at the Maryville Fire House because he felt it was the place he needed to be.
“They don’t get the thanks and gratitude they deserve. They did their part. My part needs to be to thank them.”
As they posed for a picture, he grabbed two of the firefighters by the hand and said, “You guys are my heroes.”