TODAY   |  November 09, 2012

Teen survives crash that left him trapped for days

After Taylor Campbell, 19, left a church event on Saturday night, he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his truck into a ravine, breaking his leg and shoulder. Rain and mud kept him from climbing to safety until Tuesday afternoon. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports on the ordeal of the teen, who is now safely home.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now to an amazing survival story as a tennessee teenager is finally home after being trapped in a ravine for three days. nbc's gabe gutierrez is in huntsville, alabama with more. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning. bruised and battered this teenager survived for three days by drinking the rain water from his broken headlight. he spent several days recovering in this hospital and now he is finally safe at home. as he left huntsville hospital , in a wheelchair, surrounded by his family, tyler campbell couldn't help but smile.

>> blessed. thank god. seriously. that's all i can do is thank him.

>> reporter: his ordeal began saturday night when the 19-year-old left the church event and told his family he was stopping by a friend's house a he promised to be home by midnight. but --

>> sunday morning he wasn't home and, you know, time kept going by and mom and i were real upset. dad went out looking.

>> reporter: relatives and search crews retraced campbell 's route home.

>> all i could think about was how -- where i could find him and how i wasn't going to stop until we did find him.

>> reporter: they didn't know it but he had fallen asleep at the wheel on i-65 near the tennessee /alabama border. his truck veered and tumbled 30 feet into a ravine.

>> all i remember is hitting the sign and i blacked out after that. i woke up and my leg was dangling and i was outside the truck.

>> reporter: the crash broke his leg and shoulder but he crawled from the wreckage and tried climbing up the muddy embankment.

>> i got halfway up and slid back down.

>> reporter: hours passed and in the cold he grew desperate but determined. even drinking rain water out of his broken headlight.

>> it was nasty but it was better than dying.

>> reporter: all along, he prayed. at one point he saw a rescue helicopter shine a light near his truck but move on.

>> i said, well, ain't no hope for tyler campbell . i gave up just about then.

>> reporter: by tuesday afternoon, time was running out until one last effort.

>> i didn't even plan on making it up the hill tuesday but something kept on telling me, keep pushing forward. keep pushing forward. and i did.

>> reporter: a driver spotted him. first responders rushed in. and his family got the news they'd been hoping for.

>> same old brothers. you know? arguing, fighting, back to that regular. even though we're still going to have our differences i'm glad i got a brother back.

>> reporter: a brother who after surviving three days of agony --

>> he's out.

>> reporter: has earned a nap. and he is resting now back home in tennessee . first responders say this is among the most amazing things they've ever seen. natalie, what a story of determination and faith.

>> truly, absolutely. gabe gutierrez, thanks so much.