'Lucky' USU student grateful for strangers who risked lives for him

Published: Thursday, Sept. 15 2011 4:31 p.m. MDT

Brandon Wright speaks to the media at the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011. Thanks to some good Samaritans, Brandon Wright was pulled from the underside of a burning vehicle after he collided with a BMW while riding his motorcycle.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

MURRAY — Brandon Wright isn't a religious man. He has no strong faith in an abiding power, but he's grateful to be alive.

"I'm lucky," he said Thursday. "Whatever saved me, I'm extremely grateful."

Then again, he knows who to thank for dragging him from beneath a wrecked car after lifting the vehicle with sheer manpower. Those are his "heroes," the ones who went above and beyond Monday after Wright's motorcycle collided with a BMW.

"It's not expected to risk your life for a complete stranger," Wright, 21, said. "That's what makes them special."

Wright, a student at Utah State University, was leaving campus Monday in Logan when the accident occurred about 11:45 a.m. Police say Wright was heading east on U.S. Highway 89 and swerved to avoid being hit by another vehicle that was pulling out of the parking lot across from the university's Lund Hall.

Wright knew he was in trouble and laid his bike down in an effort to protect himself.

When the motorcycle and the BMW collided, Wright was pinned beneath the car. His bike burst into flames, catching the car on fire as well. Bystanders quickly ran to help and began lifting the car to free him and one man then pulled him to safety.

Wright doesn't know the name of the man who pulled him out from under the car, but he knows that he was wearing a green shirt.

"I would like to talk to him because he wouldn't let me close my eyes and go to sleep," he said. "I don't know if I'd have hung in there without him."

Video of the heroic actions was taken from a nearby building. That video has since been viewed by millions of people over the Internet and on national news shows.

"This definitely restores my faith in humanity and probably does for other people, too, which is probably why it's so popular," he said of the video. "They put their lives on the line for me. ... They stepped up and took a huge personal risk."

Wright himself eventually saw the video.

"I was just watching the news and saw a car on fire and recognized the car," Wright said. "I couldn't look away. I didn't want to watch it." 

He said it was especially difficult to see his body splayed out on the asphalt.

"I looked dead," he said. "It's unreal to see yourself like that." 

Wright said he remembers the car pulling out. He remembers swerving to avoid it and he remembers making the decision to lay the bike down. He also remembers briefly waking up underneath the car.

"It was completely surreal," he said. "I was thinking: 'How did I even fit under here?'"

Described as "the scariest thing I've ever been through in my life," Wright remembers being conscious but unable to speak or move. He thought, at best, that he was paralyzed. Instead, he survived — with various broken bones, bruises and "some pretty gnarly road rash."

Still, his doctors are optimistic about his recovery.

"It's going to be a couple of months until Brandon is back to near normal, but we expect him to get there," Intermountain Medical Center Dr. Tom White said. 

The doctor, who typically works on trauma patients, said it's rare to see the accident scene the way he was able to because of the "very poignant" video. White noted that things may have turned out very differently if not for the people Wright regards as heroes. 

"I think if he'd stayed there any significant length of time longer, his injuries would have been more severe, perhaps even lethal," the doctor said. 

It helped that Wright didn't sustain any major injuries to his head, though he was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Wright said he usually wears a helmet, but didn't on the day of the crash because he was only traveling three or four miles. In the future, he promised that will change.

Wright's positive, motivated attitude is expected to aid in his recovery, White said. The accident has given the man a renewed outlook on life. 

"I've always thought that life is extremely precious, but this experience makes it that much more precious," he said. "I should have died several times, but I didn't for some reason."

Wright said he plans to live every day like it's his last. He plans on buying another motorcycle when he is well. He cried when he saw his mangled bike in the roadway.

"It's kind of ridiculous to say, but I did," he said.

As for his advice to other motorcyclists: "Ride like you're invisible, wear a helmet and keep the shiny side up."

And while he's eager to get back on the bike, return to school and participate in humanitarian work, more than anything he wants to thank the people who risked their lives for his own. Religious or not, they gave Wright "a miracle."

"I'm forever in debt to them," he said. "I can't thank them enough."

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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