Not to sound cliche, but this is truly an inspirational story. Thank you, Marc, for allowing us to share it.
I was reluctant to refer to Marc as an “accident survivor” in the title, as it seemed rude to simplify his existence down to a single descriptor, especially when you consider what he went on to accomplish after the accident.
I first met Marc back in middle school (shoutout to the Freeland Whippets), so I had known him for about four years prior to the crash. It’s a strange sensation you feel when you hear that someone you know has been involved in a tragic accident. I can spout off a detailed description with strained eloquence, but it wouldn’t accurately convey the pit-in-your-stomach feeling you get when you look at the carnage in the image shown above. As you can see, Marc’s Saab 9-3 had gotten wrapped itself around a tree. Two of the three fellow passengers sustained severe injuries, but the driver’s seat had taken most of the blow—Marc was pronounced dead at the scene.
Fortunately medics were able to revive him, and he was life-flighted to a nearby hospital. He had broken all of his ribs, one of which punctured his lung causing it to collapse, his spleen had ruptured, he fractured a vertebrae, he had a severe laceration on his head, and through it all he lost seven pints of blood. Doctors told Marc’s family that they didn’t think he’d make it through the first 72 hours, and if he somehow survived, he wouldn’t be able to walk or even talk ever again. The fact that he’s still with us today is truly a miracle.
I don’t want to focus solely on the accident itself, which was the result of Marc being distracted by his cell phone. Instead, I also want to: 1) point out the impressive safety offered by a Saab vehicle built in the 20th century; and 2) highlight how Marc didn’t deflect responsibility for the accident, but used this tragic moment in his life as a catalyst to raise awareness and help others.
I’ll start by recounting the brief, four-question interview I had with Marc:
How did you come to own that Saab, and was it your first?
Well, that is a funny story. When I got my license, I was 16 and working at a local pizzeria, and I saved all my money to get my first car. When I finally bought my first car, it was not a Saab, but a ’94 Honda Civic. It had no speakers, no radio… it just drove from point A to B, which ultimately at that age is all you want. Well, after purchasing the Honda, I literally drove it off the lot and at the next turn a Chevy van plowed through my whole front end. Because it was just a little Honda, the van ripped through it like tin foil. So, 10 minutes after getting my first car, I needed to start saving for another. My second car was a 2000 Saab 9-3. It was built right before GM purchased the company, so the car was still from the great days of being completely Swedish2. The car caught my eye at a local lot and I decided to give it a test ride, immediately I felt the turbo spool and felt my head sink back in the head rest. I was in love. I went home, did all my research, and came back the next day and bought it outright with cash. The car was amazing, it still had very tight steering and the extra pep behind the gas pedal gave me a rush that I never had before. I had the car for a total of 2 weeks and then my accident happened, which, by the way, was proven to have occurred not from speeding, drugs, or alcohol, but just a simple distraction.
What were your thoughts on the car/brand after the accident?
I was blessed, thank God for the great engineering behind the car itself, because that is what ultimately helped save my life. The police officer told my family if I was in any other car, I would be dead1. I was grateful for the car and how much I loved it. I was seriously upset when they cut the roof off with the jaws of life, not that I could have saved it, but still. It was like watching someone punch your child in the face. They also cut the car battery because they didn’t know the ignition was in between the front seats, and the engine was still running after the impact.
Have you considered buying another Saab?
I have, but fear the GM monster. From my knowledge, after they [Saab] were purchased they became sludge monsters, and the engine blocks froze up. I did hear they [NEVS] have moved back to Sweden now, so that is a plus. I have been keeping my eyes on them and have heard good things about their new EV concepts.
What do you drive now?
Now, I am a Honda man. I drive a Honda Accord and recently helped get my fiancé into a Honda CRV for the bad weather. I do not buy anything American based.
Aside from becoming a Honda faithful, Marc went on to graduate high school on time despite suffering from short-term memory loss, and other complications from the accident. This was possible thanks to Marc’s strong drive to work in law enforcement, and his efforts were acknowledged when the United States Marshals presented him with the Honorary Deputy award.
Marc bravely recounted his story during an assembly at our high school in an effort to raise awareness and keep other young drivers from being distracted by their cell phones. Cell Fashions, a local business, had donated proceeds generated by selling hands-free devices, which also helped to raise awareness about the issue.
Marc then went on to earn a degree in criminal justice from the School of Public Affairs at Penn State University, along with a minor in psychological science. He has since gotten engaged to Ms. Amber Lee, started his career in the tech industry, and is making his way towards his dream job as a profiler for the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a great example of how we have the power to turn something negative into something positive. It might sound cheesy, it might sound cliche, but it’s something that’s easily forgotten.
For the record, Saabs aren’t known for their safety simply by our own standards. The 9-5 was once crowned as the safest car by Folksam, a leading Swedish insurance company. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has named many Saab vehicles as its ‘top safety pick’, in fact, Saab earned such honors 18 times between 2007 and 2009. On top of that, the IIHS listed the 9-3 and 9-5 as “good” choices for those wanting a safe car for their teenage driver, and that was in 2017.
1 – Interestingly the 2000 9-3 only received an “Acceptable” rating versus a “Good” rating from the IIHS. So, you could say this was all a fluke, but we’d like to think of it as ‘even at their worst, Saab’s are incredibly safe vehicles.” For more on the IIHS rating of this specific model, click here.
2 – GM actually purchased 50 percent of Saab Automobile AB back in 1989, so it wasn’t completely Swedish, but rather a Swedish-American with dual citizenship. To read more about that merger, click here. Alternatively, you could watch Donut Media’s concise and entertaining Saab history lesson.
That’s all for now, folks. Check out our other content for more Saab stories and trivia, and, as always, stay tuned!