Missing Man Rescued Hours After Crash

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BUTLER TOWNSHIP -- A dramatic rescue took place along Interstate 81 south near West Hazleton after a man went missing for most of the day.

Brian Smith's family stood along the highway, watching as firefighters rescued him from the bottom of a slippery hill. They said Smith disappeared on his way home from work Saturday morning.

Firefighters used ropes to pull the injured driver up a steep hill.

Troopers said 12 hours earlier, Smith's SUV slid off the icy highway during his morning commute in Luzerne County.

His family had no idea where he was.

"Oh my God, there are no words, no words, to explain how relieved I am that they found him," said Donna Javick, his aunt.

Friends and relatives had been trying to find the man from Warrior Run all day long.

"His whole family, his sisters, his brother, his girlfriend, everyone was out looking for him and we searched for hours," Javick said.

State troopers had been searching along Interstate 81 for hours when one officer noticed the SUV had tumbled down the embankment.

"While walking along the interstate, I noticed faint tracks. I looked over the embankment, and there was the vehicle," Corporal Jere Ustonofski, Pennsylvania State Police.

The trooper says when he finally reached Smith, the driver was in remarkably good condition after so many hours in the cold.

"He was happy to see me. He said he was happy to see my flashlight," Ustonofski said.

Troopers explained they were able to find the missing man by pinging his cell phone and believe the device saved his life, but Smith's family credits the people they say refused to stop searching.

"They just lost their sister a couple months ago to cancer, and we were not about to lose another one, and they found him and he is alive," said Javick.

Smith was taken to the hospital.

His family said they are simply overjoyed that he was found and is expected to recover.


  • natalie

    God Bless you all! It’s so amazing to hear news like this and I’m so happy that your family member is safe.
    Merry Christmas to you all and may we all hold our family a little closer xo

  • donna

    I have to say that you could slide on the road going 5miles an hour. Nothing is more important than your life and others,so forget about getting up an hour early if the roads are that bad and stay home. Some employers expect their employees to drive in any weather conditions which is wrong. The safety of their employees should come first. Wait if the roads are icey,and don’t chance it.

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