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Driver in fiery semi crash miraculously survives

Miraculously, both drivers were transported to Owatonna Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

STEELE COUNTY, Minn. — The video is jarring, with images that make it nearly impossible to believe that a driver who collided with a semi near Owatonna early Tuesday survived. 

But 55-year-old Kurt Ruzek did survive - somewhat miraculously - leaving him feeling like there's a reason he's still here. 

Video captured by Minnesota Department of Transportation cameras shows Ruzek's Chevy Impala and the semi-trailer truck crashing at the intersection of 44th Avenue and Highway 14 in Havana Township, Steele County. Owatonna Fire and Mayo Ambulance responded to the crash, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Both Ruzek and the 63-year-old man from Madison Lake driving the semi were transported to Owatonna Hospital with what were described as "non-life-threatening injuries." 

"I didn't realize, not until it was too late that I am going to hit him," recalled Ruzek, who was driving the Impala. 

Ruzek says he was rushing to get to work, likely driving too fast and didn't see the semi on Highway 14. He doesn't recall the moment of impact. 

"I don't remember the fire, but I seen the video from it and the car blew up in flames," he shared. "So I was wondering why my left arm had soot all the way up from my hand to my shoulder. That was soot from the fire, but I didn't get burned."

Ruzek says the impact of the crash jammed all the doors on the vehicle, so he had to climb out the window of the vehicle through broken glass. He recalls two good Samaritans stopping to help before first responders arrived on the scene, one of whom "thought I was gone for sure, but then looked inside and saw me moving."

"There's a reason I'm still here. I've talked to four people who've seen the video and they said 'How come you're even walking?' And I walked away," Ruzek said, his voice breaking. "I'm grateful I'm still here."

In a crash report Tuesday morning, state patrol said both drivers were wearing their seat belts and alcohol is not believed to have been involved.


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