Trucker wants to thank Coast Guardsmen who pulled him from burning 18-wheeler

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Houston native Rodney Bigham is a truck driver by day, and a comedian by night.

"I used to be real pretty," he joked with us.

Scars on his face remind him of the accident that could have easily taken him out. Five miles from his final destination in Alabama, his truck caught fire and tipped over.

"I was in the process of getting out the truck so I'd undone the seatbelt," Bigham said. "That allowed me to fall past the fire."

Three Coast Guardsmen passing by and another truck driver pulled him out. Someone snapped a picture of him in those moments lying on the ground while his truck exploded.

"Had I awakened in the truck at that point, I would have been burned up."

Some of his injuries will heal quicker than others.

"They had to sew my ear back down. I had a couple of stitches here. And I still have the headaches and dizziness from the concussion."

He also suffered a lacerated liver.

For more than 20 years, Bigham has worked with childhood friends Kelvin Hampton and former NFL star Rodney Hampton on a holiday toy and bike drive.

"He's a giver," Kelvin Hampton said.

And now the giver needs help. So Hampton set up a GoFundMe account to help with what's on the way.

"I'm not used to people doing for me. I'm usually the one doing for everybody," said Bigham.

"But I was like hey listen, your career, what you do as a livelihood just went up in flames. You don't see it right now, but in a week, two to three weeks, hospital bills are gonna start coming in, you can't go drive your truck. You're gonna need to eat," added Hampton.

Rodney says one other thing he needs to do is thank the Coast Guardsmen who carried him to safety.

"I don't have anything to give them, but if I would just put my arms around their neck."

So far the GoFundMe has collected a little more than $2,300. The goal is $10,000.

If you'd like to donate, here's a link to that page.
Copyright © 2019 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.