NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Four people were injured, one critically, in a crash involving six vehicles on the Gowanus Expressway early Thursday morning in Brooklyn.

The accident happened around 6:30 a.m. in the westbound lanes at 66th Street in Bay Ridge.

Police said cars and two tractor-trailers collided. The impact pushed one car upright onto its front fender.

As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, one vehicle was crushed so badly that firefighters assumed the driver was dead, until they heard his cry for help.

Rescue teams used the “Jaws of Life” to extricate a man from the vehicle.

“When I looked at this mangled car, I just shook my head and I said I can’t believe that this guy is alive and speaking,” said FDNY Battalion Chief Mark Ford said.

Firefighters were shocked to see the driver wiggling his fingers through an opening in the mangled metal, crying for help.

“All he kept saying was ‘please just get me out of here, please get me out of here.’ He wound up in the one part of the car that was not crushed. It’s an area of about three feet by three feet I’d say,” FDNY Lt. Pat Mitchell said.

The red Toyota looked like it had been put into a car crushing machine.

“He was complaining that his legs were crushed and we were able to relieve the pressure on his legs by using the spreader to move the dashboard to give him some room,” Mitchell said.

Rescuers used hydraulic tools, the jaws of life and metal cutters, to remove piece after piece with an upended sport-utility vehicle looming over the scene during part of the rescue.

“We always keep an eye on that like I said, because whatever we do to this car might have an adverse reaction to that car,” Mitchell explained.

It took about 45 minutes of painstaking work to extricate the victim.

As he was being taken on a stretcher to an ambulance he raised his hands in relief and hailed the first responders who rescued him.

“He was very excited, like we all were, that he was in such good condition at the time,” Mitchell said.

That man was being treated for head trauma and other injuries at Lutheran hospital.

The crash closed the outbound Gowanus for a time just and caused delays back up across the Verrazano Bridge and into Staten Island.

The accident was cleared by 8:30 a.m.

In all, four people were hospitalized. One person was taken to NYU Lutheran Medical Center in critical condition, and two others were taken to the same hospital with minor injuries, the FDNY told 1010 WINS.

The fourth patient refused treatment.

There was no word late Thursday on what caused the crash.

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