(CP) — Bradley Jackson was hauling a load of hot tar from Winnipeg into North Dakota when his rig went off the road and slid into a ditch, rupturing the tanker and sending the burning liquid into the cab of the truck.
With tar all over his body, the 21-year-old somehow managed to crawl out of the semi and onto the road to wait for help, said his girlfriend Donna-Joe Smith.
He spent three days in a burn unit at a Minneapolis hospital before he died Saturday.
``He was a huge fighter,'' Smith said after travelling with Jackson's family to the hospital to say goodbye.
``He fought his little butt off to make sure that he could be around and he just got tired. And he's not suffering anymore and that's what we appreciate.''
The crash happened on the afternoon of Sept. 5 in Grand Forks County, N.D.
Jackson, from Woodlands, Man., was employed by Jade Transport out of Winnipeg. Smith said she dropped him off at work on the night of Sept. 4 for his trip south.
As he always did, he sent her texts from his cellphone when his truck was pulled over. He last sent her a message a half hour before the crash while stopped at a fuel station.
``He texted me saying he loved me and he'd talk to me soon.''
The North Dakota Highway Patrol said nearly 23,000 litres of tar spilled from the truck but were contained to the crash site.
The tar had covered Jackson from ``head to toe,'' said Smith, adding doctors were surprised he survived long enough to even be transported to hospital. He had third-degree burns to 95 per cent of his body and was put in a medically-induced coma because he was in so much pain.
``He was the most amazing man, very loving and supportive of everybody and everything,'' said Smith.
``I am glad and honoured to have had him in my life.''
A GoFundMe campaign had raised nearly $13,000 by Monday afternoon to help Jackson's family pay medical and travel costs.