On October 15, 2016, motorcyclist Kevin Diepenbrock hit a slippery stretch and crashed on the famous Dragon’s Tail in Deals Gap, North Carolina, about an hour outside Knoxville, Tennessee. Knowing that he was badly injured and might not make it through the night, Diepenbrock recorded and sent beautifully sincere farewell videos to his family, expressing between labored breaths, how much he would miss them. Fortunately, Diepenbrock was found nearly 30 hours later, alive but morbidly injured and is now recovering from those injuries.
On Oct. 15, Diepenbrock and Phillip Polito, his riding companion and co-worker at a natural gas plant near Philadelphia, Pa., tumbled more than 100 feet down a rocky embankment after their motorcycles collided on a notorious stretch of Highway 129 near mile marker 4 called “The Dragon.” Polito, 29, of Perryville, Mo., was killed in the crash, and the 41-year-old Diepenbrock was flung out of sight from the motorists who get a thrill from the treacherous road’s sharp curves and scenic views. With two punctured lungs, 17 breaks in 12 ribs and multiple spinal fractures, Diepenbrock couldn’t move. He had no cellphone signal. He lay on the ground for 30 hours before he was rescued, yelling as he listened to every car that passed and slowly realizing that maybe, he wouldn’t make it out alive.