Siri & 'butt dial' saves pastor's son pinned under 5,000 pound truck

by Kimberly Pennington, National Correspondent |
18-year-old Sam Ray (left) with dispatchers from the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office in Tennessee. Christine Lee (right) took the 911 call placed by Siri after Ray was trapped under his 5,000 pound truck in July. The call likely saved his life. | Rutherford County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (Christian Examiner) -- An 18 year-old Tennessee man credits God, prayer, and Siri, Apple iPhone's voice-activated "intelligent assistant," with saving his life when he became trapped under his 5,000 pound 1998 black Dodge Dakota pickup truck last month.

Sam Ray was home alone trying to repair "a funny noise" on his vehicle when the jack collapsed sending the truck crashing down on top of him. Despite yelling for help and using his one free hand to bang a tire iron on the vehicle, no one was around to hear his calls for help, reported The (Nashville) Tennessean.

Ray had just spoken to his father, Dusty, pastor of Heartland Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, who told him not to work under the vehicle while alone and to wait for his arrival home when they could work on the truck together. Following his dad's advice, Ray started to move out from under the vehicle when the incident happened.

Feeling like a leg was breaking, he attempted five times to free himself according to the Rutherford County, Tennessee Sherriff's Department.

Dispatchers from the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office in Tennessee and flight medics who were involved in rescue of 18-year-old Sam Ray who was trapped under his 5,000 pound truck in July. A 911 call placed by Siri and quick thinking by dispatchers likely saved the life of the pastor's son. | Rutherford County Sheriff's Office/Facebook

In the process, the iPhone in Ray's back pocket "butt-dialed" or lit up on its own, according to WSMV. Ray, who had never before used Siri and thought the electronic "intelligent assistant" was silly, but realized it may be his only hope for rescue and managed to push on the phone with his hip to activate it.

"Call 911" he commanded Siri. Within minutes, Rutherford County Sheriff's Office dispatcher Christina Lee was on the line evaluating the situation. She triangulated Ray's cell phone signal but could only locate the street.

Despite having feelings he might not survive and struggling to breath because of the transmission sitting on top of his chest, Ray had presence of mind to call out information Lee needed to pinpoint his exact location. "He was yelling his address, and that was the best thing he could have done," she said, according to the news account.

"When I heard a woman talking from inside my pocket, I just started shouting," Ray told reporters. "I don't know if she could hear me or not, but I heard her say that help was just around the corner."

After first responders freed Ray from the vehicle, he was airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville where he was treated for broken ribs, a crushed kidney, cuts, a concussion and third-degree burns to his left arm. He spent 40 minutes under the vehicle with one arm directly below the exhaust pipe.

The hospital's chief of trauma and surgical care, Richard Miller, said Ray was lucky.

"Sometimes these crush injuries can be devastating and can kill you," he said. Miller also said this is the first case he is aware of in which a patient in a crisis situation managed to use Siri to reach 911.

Ray is recovering well and plans to pursue a career in ministry or nursing when he attends Tri-State Baptist College in Mississippi this fall. He believes he was left here for a reason.

"To survive and to be able to walk out – I have a great family and friends that are willing to pray and a God that will help me," he said. "I would love to help people the way I was helped," the teen said. "This has reminded me how fragile life is and how little time we have to make a difference."