Huntsville hero saves crash victim who had been waiting 30 hours for help
It was just another weekend for motorcycle enthusiast and Huntsville native Josh Johnson.
About every weekend Johnson takes his motorcycle to ride on the stretch of U.S. Highway 129 known as “The Dragon.”
On October 15th Johnson was sitting at a “pull off” with photographer and friend Patrick Strzelecki. A “pull off” is a safe place where people can watch riders ride and take pictures. A woman and her date approached the two claiming they could hear a man calling out for help, but could not see him.
Johnson went to investigate.
He saw debris on the side of the road where the calls for help were said to be coming. Johnson managed to get close enough to the edge to see Kevin Diepenbrock laying at the bottom of the 100-foot embankment.
He slid down to try to help.
Diepenbrock had been stuck for more than 30 hours and was in very bad shape. “He didn’t think he could make it another day,” said Johnson.
Diepenbrock had been riding with his friend Phillip Polito when Polito suddenly hit his brakes. Diepenbrock then collided with Polito sending the two down the steep hillside. Polito died in the wreck.
Due to the bad cell reception in the area, Diepenbrock was unable to call or text anyone for help. Afraid he wouldn’t make it, Diepenbrock started recording a final video message on his phone for loved ones.
Along with Blount County rescue crews, Johnson, Strzelecki, and friend Joseph Moore helped pull Diepenbrock out of the embankment by rope. He was eventually airlifted to the University of Tennessee Medical Center, where he was treated for two punctured lungs, 12 broken ribs, two breaks in his spine, and a lot of road rash.
Diepenbrock is expected to fully recover from his injuries. It’s safe to say he’ll always be thankful to Johnson and to everyone that helped save his life when he was just about to lose all hope.