Eric Burgess survived when he jumped out of his truck as it before it hit the lake.
Eric Burgess leaving the hospital
The view of Versluis Lake
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- On August 16, Eric Burgess was driving a pick-up truck down a hill on Plainfield Avenue when his brakes went out. After running multiple red lights, he jumped out just before his truck went over an embankment and into Versluis Lake.
Burgess was released Wednesday after more than two weeks at Saint Mary's Rehabilitation Hospital.
"I thought of my wife and my kids. I thought I got to live through whatever happens next," he recalls.
Burgess is the principal of Rockford Christian School and was transporting school supplies in a work vehicle when he discovered his brakes were not working.
"I was hitting my horn trying to tell everyone that I couldn't stop." He tried the emergency brake but it snapped off as the truck quickly approaching the busy East Beltline and a red traffic light.
"Thankfully I cleared the Beltline, but I had to make a decision to stay in the cab or get out," explains Burgess.
Plainfield Avenue dead ends in to a steep embankment and Versluis Lake. As you approach, its angle looks quite menacing.
"I just felt like the best thing to do was to jump out of the cab, so I just tried to time it right as the truck was going over the embankment," explains Burgess.
He undid his seat belt, opened the door, and leaped out of the fast-moving truck. Burgess ended up on the hill; the truck hit the lake. His ankles and feet were shattered, most likely hitting the cement curb.
"It could have been so much worse. I will be able to walk again someday thanks to the good people here and to God's healing," explains Burgess.
Eric has a long road ahead of surgeries and healing, but he still found some humor in the situation. He brought the a DVD of 'The Dukes of Hazard.' "If I was in the General Lee, I would have cleared the pond and I couldn't have jumped out because the doors wouldn't open," says Burgess.
He hopes now to go home and see his students. "I can't wait to get back to school to see them again. I have gotten to see my kids almost every day, but when I get to see them, that is when I know the process will come to completion," explains Burgess.