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Trapped trucker who survived hours in sub-zero temperatures returns to Orlando

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ORLANDO, Fla. - A truck driver is out of the hospital and back home in Orlando Thursday night after being stuck under his semitrailer for hours in sub-zero temperatures in Indiana.

Tim Rutledge flew in to Orlando International Airport where he spoke with Channel 9's Renee Stoll.

Rutledge said he crawled under his cab before dawn on Monday to fix his truck's frozen brakes at a truck stop south of Indianapolis. But the truck suddenly settled deeper into the snow, pinning him beneath an axle.

The 53-year-old said he could see people walking around the area but he couldn't get their attention. 

"All the other trucks were running and when I would try to yell for help they couldn't hear me, they couldn't see me, because I was totally under my truck," said Rutledge.

Rutledge said he was having a hard time staying conscious, but his wife Lisa's continued attempts to reach him on his phone kept him awake.

"What woke me up a lot was my phone being in my pocket. It would ring and I kept thinking that it was an alarm clock," he said.

After about eight hours, his cellphone fell from his coat pocket and he was able to use its voice activation to tell his boss he needed help.

"My first words were, 'Whatever you do don't hang up the phone because it might be the last time I get to talk to anybody," an emotional Rutledge said Thursday night.

Rutledge said with the wind chill temperatures were as low as 35-40 degrees below zero.

He said his clothes froze to the ground and his fingers were frozen together.

"It was the loneliest time of my life," Rutledge said.

Rutledge said he has some numbness but shouldn't have long-term injuries. His doctor says another hour outside likely would have been fatal.

Follow Renee on Twitter: @RStollWFTV