By LebBuck on 12:50:16 05/10/04
Last Friday I met Steve Tovar. I went to OSU during the same period he starred for the Buckeyes, so this should have been a cause for celebration. Except in this situation.
Late Friday afternoon, my wife, kids and I were headed North on I-71 about 45 miles North of Cincy. Normal day, heavy traffic as it's close to 5PM. We're driving along and all of a sudden we see a virtual explosion in front of us. Recounting it, it was simply mayhem of an accident. The semi next to us skidded to a halt and we swerved to the berm to stay out of the way of it and other cars. As we stopped, we were all OK in our car. We could see the carnage ahead (just a 1 car accident thankfully) so my wife called 911 and I jumped out and ran up to the mangled wreck. Others were running up as well and right away this is where I noticed Steve was running up too. (Kinda weird as you're thinking about this wreck and then say to yourself... Hey, that's Steve Tovar!)
Debris was everywhere... an axle with one tire about 50 feet away... clothes scattered across the highway... fluid spewing from the pickup truck. As we neared the wreckage no one thought there would be a survivor. Nonetheless we crept closer and heard a voice. Me, Steve and the truck driver got to the passenger window opening (the truck was laying on the driver side after flipping a few times) and looked in. There was a young woman struggling to get free out of the truck. We asked her to stay still but she was obviously shaken from the accident. We kept asking her not to move because she might have internal injuries or serious back injuries we didn't know about. We couldn't calm her down, the truck might blow and she was bleeding.... so we decided to try to pull her out. In doing so, the three of us we able to reach in and carefully (as much as possible) pull her out. Honestly without Steve there, we could not have done it as quickly and easily (or possibly even get her out at all). As any LB from OSU, he is stacked and still looks like he could plow through a Big Ten O Line and blast the QB.
We got her out and away from the wreck. At this time a group of us were trying to comfort her, etc. She was still hysterical and very injured. We started looking through her articles to find out who she is etc. We found her wallet and her name. In talking to her, she gave us some info. By this time EMS, State Troopers, Fire Dept etc had shown up.
We then began looking at other articles on the highway and found that she plays basketball for a DI university. Her hoops shoes and hoops bags were in shambles. It appeared that she was headed home for the Summer. Soon the Medic Chopper had landed and taken her to the local hospital. We were all obviously concerned as you don't call the choppers in for normal injuries.
At that time we needed to fill out the paper work with the police. I then approached Steve and we started talking about the Buckeyes. We talked for like 30 minutes until the policeman came to get our account of the situation. As many know, he's a coach for Army now. LB coach I believe. He had been in the Cincy area recruiting that day and in Dayton on Thursday as well. We went over his days when he played for Elyria Catholic and of course his OSU days. He had a gleam in his eye when he spoke about those days, all while standing there in an Army Knights golf shirt. He loves it at Army... loves the experience at West Point. And he loves college coaching. We didn't discuss it, but it seemed like coaching back at OSU would be a dream come true. Well spoken, polite and heroic is the image I was left with of him when the debris was cleared and truck towed away. (In addition to being a 2 time AA, team captain, B10 Def POY, etc as a Buckeye)
That's not even the end of the story...
Our family went on our way that evening and returned home. Worried about the young woman, I went to the school's website where she played basketball. Upon reading her bio and stats, her personal info hit me like a ton of brinks... Her mom was on the Synch Swimming team for OSU and her Dad was a Varsity Letterman for the Buckeyes football team as well. (To protect privacy, I'm not listing any of their names, etc.)
You hear it all the time... but what a small, small world. Steve Tovar, out just doing his job helps save the daughter of a former Buckeye football player.
To wrap up this long story... I called the hospital this morning to check on her status. She is listed in fair condition. Say a prayer or just a thought about this young woman and her family.
I'm glad I got to meet Steve, but wish it was under different circumstances. If you ever get a chance to meet Steve, shake his hand knowing that he not only is a great Buckeye, but a great man as well.