'Entirely miraculous': FedEx driver survives 75-foot fall in Salisbury

A Good Samaritan is lucky to be alive after surviving a 75-foot fall off a bridge in an effort to avoid a tractor-trailer while attempting to help a stranded motorist.

“There was no way I was supposed to walk out of that,” said Jeremiah Cribb, 24, when reached by phone from the hospital. “I’m beyond grateful. Words can’t explain.”

The near-fatal incident happened in the early morning hours on I-85 above the Yadkin River Thursday morning. Rescuers say conditions made the response challenging.

“It was about 3:30 in the morning, in the rain, on a high-speed four-lane highway,” said Salisbury Fire Battalion Chief Nicholas Martin. “It is something that we train for frequently but it does not occur frequently.”

Firefighters from five different agencies responded to the scene. Cribb, a FedEx driver, was on his way to Greensboro when he stopped to help a stranded driver parked in the left lane. He was forced to jump off the bridge to avoid an oncoming 18-wheeler that clipped the car.

In the dark, Cribb said he thought he was jumping onto a level grassy median. He did not know there was a 75-foot drop. He landed in soft mud, firefighters said, just missing several logs.

He suffered three broken ribs and a collapsed lung.

“I’m thankful to be alive,” he said. “Life is too short to take life so seriously.”  

Firefighter Jacob Vodochodsky was among the rescuers who repelled down a rope to get Cribb.

“I was expecting the worst from that great fall,” he said.

Instead, he found Cribb alert and talking. He didn’t know where he was or what happened but was able to move.

“I let him know he was all right and kept telling him he was doing great and we’d get him out of there,” he said.

Martin called the outcome “entirely miraculous.”

In the dark, Cribb said he thought he was jumping onto a level grassy median. He did not know there was a 75-foot drop. He landed in soft mud, firefighters said, just missing several logs.

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Salisbury firefighters responded to a similar incident, at this same location, back in 2011.

“I hope he recovers real quick,” said Vodochodsky. “I’d like to see him again.”