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Man trapped in wrecked, flooded car for 10 hours

Posted November 13, 2008

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— A Roxboro man spent 10 hours overnight trapped in his wrecked car, hidden from sight in a roadside creek in Granville County.

Joseph Rodney Puryear, 41, said he blacked out around midnight Monday while driving home from work. His 1998 Chrysler hit an embankment and landed in a creek, near 6711 Old Roxboro Road, outside Oxford.

"It was so cold out there. Everything was frozen, my hands, my feet," Puryear said.

Cold water rushed into the car, and Puryear could not move his leg to get out. His cell phone, though, still worked.

Puryear called his mother, and she answered but couldn't hear a single word he said. He called his wife, but she was asleep and missed the call. Eventually, his cell-phone batteries ran out.

"It was miserable, because I kept hollering and all those cars kept passing by, and it did no good. Nobody heard me," Puryear said.

His wife, Denise, woke up around 3:30 a.m. and saw her husband had not come home. She organized family members to look for him.

"Where he was at, we had traveled that road and, probably, like four times had passed by him," Denise Puryear said. "Each one of us had passed him by, but nobody saw him."

The ditch where Puryear landed was completely isolated from the road, and no driver caught sight of his car throughout the night.

Temperatures plunged to 32 degrees and, 10 hours after the wreck, had risen to only 42 degrees.

In the morning, Puryear used his belt to pull himself from the car. Still yelling for help, he threw sticks at passing motorists.

"I kept hollering for help. Nobody heard me," he said.

Eventually, around 10:15 a.m., a nearby resident spotted Puryear crawling out of the creek. The resident called for help, and Puryear was flown to Duke University Medical Center in Durham.

Puryear suffered hypothermia and has a broken pelvis and kneecap. He has begun physical therapy, but wasn't sure when he would be able to go home.

Puryear said, however, that his biggest prayers were answered.

"I just prayed the whole time and did the best I could to get myself to safety," he said.


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  • Justin T. Nov 14, 2008

    I'm not sure how this story has turned into to GOLO'ers bashing each other... it is pretty off-putting to check in to leave a comment and see some random fight...

    Anyway, this guy IS THE MAN! He crawled out of the wreckage with a broken pelvis and hypothermia!

    I thought this story was about human toughness and narrowly escaping death. I guess I am missing something.

    This heroic effort must pale in comparison to a bunch of angry people flaming each other from the comfort of their parents' basement. Type a little harder, you may build some character.

  • haggis basher Nov 14, 2008

    "Oh and for the record I'm not dumb nor lazy believe me"
    Perhaps not, but I see no evidence of that.

  • Sincerity Nov 14, 2008

    pebbles thanks for the compliment but I am pretty average. I did make it to work today without praying first. One day I may not, but then again neither may that person who prayed.

  • pebbles262004 Nov 14, 2008

    Oh and for the record I'm not dumb nor lazy believe me

  • pebbles262004 Nov 14, 2008

    happisbasher what ever, to each his own

  • haggis basher Nov 14, 2008

    "haggisbasher, You're pitiful"
    Well that was a thoughtful, well argued case! I pity anyone too dumb or lazy to do basic math and understand how the real world works. Feel free to pity all you like, but its not me that is wasting my time and money on a myth.

  • pebbles262004 Nov 14, 2008

    haggisbasher, You're pitiful

  • pebbles262004 Nov 14, 2008

    sincerity, I'm glad that you are so special that you don't need God in your life...that way he'll have more time for me and my family and friends

  • teacher-mom Nov 14, 2008

    That is one lucky man. I hope he does not have permanent injuries from this.

  • DandyJenn Nov 14, 2008

    It's a god debate when really it should just be about common sense. SweetB, I know for a *fact* that I would be calling 911. I don't care if I was so high on dope that I would go to prison for years, at least it would be warm and I would not have almost died.