MILWAUKEE — The driver who fell 70 feet off the Zoo Interchange onto I-94 below last weekend is speaking with TMJ4 News about the terrifying incident and his recovery from it.
Richard Oliver was sitting up in a wheelchair when TMJ4’s Stephanie Haines spoke with him Friday in the hospital. The 34-year-old said he wasn't able to do that the day before.
He has a broken back, a broken leg, and has had a couple of surgeries.
His fiancé, Candice, was by his side. They have a six-month-old baby, and he is lucky to be alive.
Oliver says he was going to his mom's house - he takes this route every day - when he lost control and went up over the snow. He said he drives through the Zoo Interchange often.
He said when he got on the overpass, the car understeered, so he corrected it. He said the snow was up to the white line of the emergency lane, and his car went up the snowbank. Then it plunged down 70 feet onto I-94, landing upright and hitting no other car.
"I remember I hit the snow and I'm like, 'oh, hopefully it hits the wall,' and it just kept going," Oliver said. "My brain was like, 'uh oh, we're on a bridge,' and I blacked out, and the next thing I remember was smelling the airbag in the truck."
Oliver said he tried to crawl out the back of his truck, but four Good Samaritans came running to help. He said he thinks they helped save his life.
"Just amazing people, because I see accidents all the time, and people just drive right by and they don't care," Oliver said.
Oliver is in a lot of pain, but he was able to sit upright in a wheelchair for the first time Friday. He said he had surgeries on both his back and his knee. A shard from his back could have paralyzed him if he had moved any wrong way trying to crawl out of his truck. Oliver said he might be in a wheelchair for a year.
His fiance, Candice, says Oliver may be able to leave Froedtert Hospital within the week.
Oliver said he's watched the video a few times.
"I personally believe if that emergency lane would have been plowed to the barrier I think the front of my truck would have slid into it, it would have grinded along it and stopped," Oliver said.
Surviving this crash has changed his life in so many ways. Oliver knows recovery will be tough, but he wants to reach out and help others more and maybe bring awareness to his story.
"I'm a real, real strong person, and I do know that about myself, so I'm not going to give up on this," Oliver said.
His fiancé set up a GoFundMe to help with his recovery.
They are grateful for all the support so far.