Man who survived after truck plunged into lake tells his story - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Man who survived after truck plunged into lake tells his story

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

"Come sit with daddy," Christian Pate told his daughter Eliana. She's only 18-months-old but she was big enough to save her daddy from drowning in Lake Pontchartrain.

"I wasn't going to let it take me out so she wouldn't have me in her life."

Christian Pate was traveling southbound on the Causeway on May 31. The weather was bad and Pate was dressed in a suit from a North Shore wedding. He was heading to work at a New Orleans restaurant. Suddenly, Pate said the slick road sent his truck spiraling out of control.

"The back end of my truck started to slide out like that and I'm in the left hand land. The back end of my truck caught the four inch curb and when it did it hit like that. [It] seemed like my truck caught traction and just went straight."

Pate says he was in disbelief and felt like he was in a bad dream. He couldn't believe he was going over the bridge. He took out at least 80-feet of railing.

"As I'm jumping the rail, I'm looking at the water and it seemed like a thousand feet slow motion. As I hit the water at an angle, the impact said boom and then there goes the windshield."

The truck was going down fast. Christian was inside fighting for his life. He said by the time the water equalized the truck underwater, all he could do was hit the window with his elbow and punch out the driver's side window. He wanted to give up.

"When I saw the mental picture of my baby girl it gave me the push I needed to finally surface and get the breath of air I needed most," he said.

Pate surfaced in pain, struggling with wet dress clothes tangled around him. He grabbed a floating life jacket that had been in the back seat of his truck. It was then he saw Al Pike, a Good Samaritan who pulled on the side of the Causeway. He has since talked to Pike on the phone.

"I told him he looked like Kurt Russell or Tarzan or somebody doing the 20 foot swan dive off the bridge and I said that meant everything to me. Somebody was coming for me."

Photographer David Grunfeld with NOLA.com the Times Picayune happened to be on the scene. He captured the rescue.

"The man is so selfless," Pate said. "He was so worried about me he's lifting my body up and I'm watching his head go under water."

Pate has been out of the hospital a couple of days, but has to give himself antibiotics for a bacterial infection. He also had his spleen removed. He was not wearing a seatbelt.

"How many angels were guarding me that day," he said. "It's unreal"

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