MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – An engineer with the Murfreesboro Fire Rescue Department says he owes his life to a Marion County Sheriff’s Office detective who died Tuesday in a helicopter crash.

Murfreesboro authorities say Benjamin Honeycutt was in a near-deadly car crash 23 years ago and Matt Blansett came to the rescue.

“Medically, I’m not supposed to be here,” Honeycutt said.

He was 17 years old when he was involved in a crash on Dec. 16, 1999, on a South Pittsburgh mountain. Blansett responded to the crash with his father, who volunteered with the South Pittsburgh Volunteer Fire Department at the time.

“They responded up to the mountain and got me extricated and down the mountain and airlifted to Erlanger in Chattanooga,” Honeycutt said. “I survived because of them.”

Honeycutt’s injuries were so severe that doctors did not think he would survive, even telling his parents to be prepared.

“I had a torn aorta, lacerated liver, left lung collapse, stomach collapse, two fractured ribs and bruises,” Honeycutt said. “I also had a bleeding kidney, lost parts of [my] spleen, spinal cord damage, brain bleed, and lost 12 inches of colon. I died three times on the operating table.”

Honeycutt was deeply saddened to learn that one of the men who helped save his life lost his in a helicopter crash. Tennessee Highway Patrol Sergeant Tim Russell was also killed.

“You just stand there in shock and you do not really know what to say or do, but when it starts to absorb it starts to break your heart,” Honeycutt said.

Honeycutt, along with Murfreesboro firefighters and police officers, stood on the South Church Street bridge over Interstate 24 Wednesday afternoon in salute, as authorities escorted Blansett’s body from Nashville to East Tennessee.

“I though it would be good for us to show our respect and support for his family,” Honeycutt said. “He was just one of those people that you were a better person for even knowing him.”

Honeycutt was also in a second crash on the same mountain a year and four months later in April 2001, and who responded to that crash?

Blansett and his father.