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A cyclist who has been nicknamed "Indiana Jones" for surviving being dragged beneath a semi-trailer for half a kilometre has cheated death before.

Ladislav Cumpelik was riding to work in Saanich, B.C., just outside Victoria on Wednesday morning when a big rig unexpectedly turned right directly in front of him.

Cumpelik, 37, said he tried to stop but skidded under the truck as it began to pick up speed.

He described grabbing the truck's undercarriage and hanging on, while screaming for help as several motorists pulled alongside to alert the truck driver.

Saanich police Const. Paul Cain estimates the semi reached speeds of about 50 kilometres an hour as Cumpelik clung on for dear life.

He survived with a broken shoulder, fractured ribs and extensive road rash, said Cain, who added that the cyclist's back was skinned, but mostly saved by a backpack.

"He was yelling for help and nobody could hear him."

A driver behind the truck raced beside the trucker, honking and yelling for him to stop, Cain said.

"I've been doing this job for 27 years and I've never encountered anything like that," he said.

"His shorts were completely shredded. Like, completely. There was hardly anything left of them."

Cain said the truck, which was carrying steel beams to a construction site, drove over the bike.

"The truck driver had no idea, no idea. This is a miracle. Just something you don't hear about."

Markyta Cumpelik said her son was expected to have surgery Friday night or Saturday.

"He said what was going through his mind was that it was his last day on Earth," she said of Cumpelik, who married a year ago and is thrilled to be alive.

She said her son was terrorized as he screamed for the driver to stop.

"He didn't now if he could hold on anymore and if he would be crushed by the wheels of the trailer.

"My baby has nine lives because he's gone through trauma several times in his life."

She said that age two, Cumpelik almost drowned in a lake after wandering away from a children's birthday party. When he was six, he ran into a plate-glass window at a friend's house and still bears the scars.

"All the guardian angels up in heaven, they're really busy with him," she said.

"He's in such good humour, he's making jokes."