A man who survived being trapped inside a burning truck is slowly healing inside a Kansas City hospital.
A patch of black ice caused a chain-reaction crash that forced cars to pile up and burst into flames on April 24 near Interstate 35 and Chouteau Trafficway.
Rodney Batesel has had at least 23 surgeries to help him heal from the crash that nearly took his life.
A volunteer firefighter and several good Samaritans saw the crash and stopped to help Batesel, who was trapped inside his burning truck.
Friends, family and even more strangers are holding a fundraiser Wednesday night to help cover the cost of his medical bills.
"They saved his life," Batesel's fiancé, Sandy Barber, said.
They encouraged him to hang on until an ambulance arrived. Barber rushed to the hospital. A nurse met her in the lobby.
"She started crying when she saw me. I just thought I was going to fall because I thought 'Oh, oh no.' She said right away, 'He is alive,'" Barber said.
Batesel's life quickly changed. He not only had third- and fourth-degree burns on 65 percent of his body. He also had a bilateral, above-the-knee amputation.
"You don't think about walking you just do it. Now his legs are gone. Both of them," Barber said.
Barber is by his side. She helps him through each new obstacle.
"He is so strong and we just want him to be better and to go home," she said.
Pictures and get well cards line Batesel's room in the burn unit at the University of Kansas Hospital. With the help of a fundraiser at Pat's Pub in North Kansas City, they hope to pay medical bills and buy Batesel prosthetic legs.
"I know he would just say ‘thank you' to everybody," Barber said.
Barber said her fiancé will soon speak again with the help of a speaking valve. Until then, she is thanking everyone he can't.
"That somebody would take the time out of their day to write a card and then to mail it to someone they don't know just saying, 'Hey we are praying for you.' It's pretty touching," Barber said.
The bingo fundraiser starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Pat's Pub, located at 1315 Swift Avenue. Tickets are $5 each.
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