Tampa, Florida- It was just after noon when John Fragomeni was driving south on Interstate 75.

"About three cars ahead of me was a semi-truck carrying a bull dozer," said Fragomeni who works as a reserve Hillsborough County Firefighter and just finished up an overnight shift.

PHOTOS: Flatbed falls off I-75

He was on his way to a second job when a semi three cars up suddenly lost control slamming into the guardrail on the I-75 bridge over the Alafia River.

"When he hit that, I could barely see anything there was so much smoke... and the tractor disappeared," recalls Fragomeni who slammed on the brakes pulling over to find the tractor trailer had fallen nearly 50-feet into the mud below.

"The cab was all separated on its own, the axel came off, the bull dozer went 100 yards the other way and my first instinct was 'this guy might be hurt really bad or he might not even be alive'," said Fragomeni.

He and a Sheriff's Deputy also arriving on scene wasted no time jumping down a steep embankment into the muck below.

"It was almost like sinking sand or like quicksand. You'd sink all the way down to your waist. I lost both of my boots, my socks and by the time I got to my patient I was covered head to toe in mud."

As Fragomeni and the deputy approached the overturned truck, they saw a welcome sight.

"The guy pokes his head out of the roof of the truck. Right then, I was breathless. I was so happy to see he was alive."

A fisherman on the river also jumped in to help, transporting the diver by boat to a nearby dock where an ambulance was waiting.

"He was like I don't know what happened. It felt like the truck was coming apart while I was driving," recalls Fragomeni of what the driver said after his rescue.

John says he's just happy he and others were in the right place at the right time, to make a difference in someone's life.

"It's a good feeling when you help someone out. I feel good going to sleep tonight."

The driver, 29 year old Matt Cook, was transported to Tampa General Hospital in serious condition. Investigators believe the steering on his truck failed. Troopers are investigating what caused the major mechanical failure.

Read or Share this story: