Not many cyclists can say they’ve been in an accident involving a semi truck and survived.

But a Saanich man’s quick thinking saved his life after he became trapped under the truck’s trailer and dragged for 450 metres – until someone managed to alert the driver.

Ladislav Cumpelik was biking to work on the shoulder of West Saanich Road when the semi passed him southbound on a hill near Markham Street, just before 7 a.m. Thursday.

“I noticed he was slowing down as he was getting closer to the bottom of the hill,” Cumpelik said from his hospital bed at Victoria General Hospital. “All of a sudden he slows right down and I see brakes, no turn signal whatsoever, and I see him turn a little bit to the left and back to the right, and at that point I know he was making a turn.”

Because he built up such speed on the hill, Cumpelik couldn’t stop in time. His bike skidded out from under him, sending him and the bike right underneath the turning truck.

“I didn’t have enough speed to go right through to the other side, so instead of being caught I grabbed on to his brake line and held on tight, and started screaming,” he said.

The bike was completely destroyed underneath the trailer’s wheels, and Cumpelik couldn’t let go for fear of the same thing happening to him.

As the truck began picking up speed, the cyclist positioned himself so that only his backpack and shoes were skidding against the pavement.

ladislav bag

Family shows off the backpack Ladislav Cumpelik wore when he skidded out underneath a semi trailer truck Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. (CTV Vancouver Island)

“I knew there were speed humps coming and my main worry was if I was going to hit the speed humps, what’s going to happen to me?” said Cumpelik, who was wearing a helmet. “I wanted to hold on as tight as I could for as long as possible.”

He was dragged, screaming, for nearly half a kilometre before he began to feel the truck slow down.

To his surprise, another driver had noticed the incident unfold and got the attention of the truck driver, who came to a stop.

Somebody called 911 and ambulance and fire responded within minutes, according to Saanich police.

“I just stayed there. My head was kind of pinned on the axle, my arm was still wrapped around the brake lines,” Cumpelik said.

He was taken to hospital with a broken shoulder, cracked ribs and “a whole lot of road rash,” but the cyclist said he feels fortunate to be alive.

Police agreed that it could’ve been much worse – and that responding officers were shocked when they learned Cumpelik had suffered only relatively minor injuries.

“This is something that you only see in a movie,” said Sgt. Ron Stewart. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I’ve never seen a guy so fortunate to not have severe injuries.”

He said it’s a good reminder to motorists that bikes can reach the same speed limits as vehicles when traveling down hills.

“Even though they’re hard to see and they’re smaller, they can still carry the speed. You have to pay attention to cyclists at all time,” said Stewart.

He added police are still investigating exactly what happened, and that it appeared the driver underestimated the cyclist’s speed.

The truck driver was eventually released from the scene and no charges have been laid.

With a report from CTV Vancouver Island's Scott Cunningham