The video shows Kevin Diepenbrock lying on the ground, his face bloodied.
So Diepenbrock, whose friend was killed in the incident, began to record.
“Hey everybody,” he says in the video. “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 then tells his parents he loves them. He lists his possible injuries. He asks that someone take care of his pups.
“See you soon,” he says.
Diepenbrock — who had fallen more than 100 feet down a hill after the Oct. 15 crash — was not rescued from the site until about 27 hours after the fatal collision, ABC News reported. Someone eventually heard him cry out, and that set in motion a rescue operation.
“It’s a miracle that somebody even heard him there,” Blount County Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Jerry Phillips told ABC News. “It’s really amazing.”
“Never forget to tell people you love them. That’s all I could think about when I was down there. Was that, you know, I never, you never say that enough,” Diepenbrock told WATE, an affiliate station. “You never spend enough time with your parents, you never spend enough time with people that are close to you.”
The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the crash happened on a part of U.S. Highway 129 that is known as “The Dragon,” which, according to the newspaper, has “sharp curves and scenic views.”
Diepenbrock was riding with Phillip Polito, a 29-year-old man who was a co-worker. A highway patrol report obtained by the News Sentinel indicates that Polito braked while the motorcycles were traveling on the roadway, and then the collision occurred, with Diepenbrock hitting the back of Polito’s bike. The crash sent both motorcyclists off a steep embankment. The newspaper reported that Diepenbrock suffered punctured lungs, broken ribs and spinal fractures.
Motorists passed by, and Diepenbrock did cry out for help, the News Sentinel reported. But the newspaper noted that he couldn’t be heard. And, the motorcycles and the two crash victims were down the embankment, where they couldn’t be easily spotted, the News Sentinel said. So the injured Diepenbrock could not get anyone’s attention.
“I don’t know how anybody could have heard me,” Diepenbrock told the newspaper. “Nobody stopped. … I had moved just a little bit. I tried pulling myself over with a limb at one point, but I think at that point there was too much pain, and I passed out. I pretty much couldn’t move.”
Text messages to members of his family didn’t send, the News Sentinel reported, Facebook status updates about the emergency didn’t post. He spent the night at the crash site, and he shot the videos.
“The next-to-last was that morning,” he told the newspaper, which reported that multiple clips were recorded. “I was like, ‘It’s been a while, nobody’s come. I can’t get ahold of anybody. I love you guys.’ I ran out of battery juice. I turned off my cell signal because nothing had gone through, and I was trying to save my cellphone for that last video. Then I turned off my cell service, and my battery was completely dead. That was when I thought, ‘I’m done.’ ”
Then — finally — a rescue. Here’s what happened, via the News Sentinel:
That was about the time when a woman and her date drove by on a motorcycle. She told him to pull over so she could get a drink, and that was when Diepenbrock thinks she must have heard him yelling. At first, the couple couldn’t see him from their vantage point high above the ravine, so they went to a nearby photography shop, 129 Photos, to get help. They returned with an Alabama man named Joshua Johnson who moved to the edge until he spotted Diepenbrock trying to get his attention.“Josh came sliding down,” Diepenbrock said. “I just remember this guy and he’s got his full helmet on, full race gear from a sport bike-type situation. This guy seemed like he was just bounding down the hill for me.”
Diepenbrock was airlifted to a hospital after crews managed to haul him out of the embankment, according to the News Sentinel. He has reportedly been visited there by Johnson, the man who rushed down to help him.
“I know there were a lot of people [involved],” Diepenbrock told the newspaper. “But that’s the guy that when he came down the hill, I saw him, and he grabbed my hand and said, ‘Everything’s going to be good and we’re going to get out of here.’ He said he’d get ahold of my family and stuff like that. That was the guy who meant everything to me.”