Mark Harmon is known for his role as the heroic and grizzled Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS, but his real life accomplishments are no less impressive. In 1996, Harmon’s quick actions prevented a possible tragedy after two teens crashed their car in front of his home. Seventeen years afterwards, both Harmon and the boy he saved spoke out about the incident and how it changed their lives.
January 3, 1996 was a momentous day for both Harmon and the young man he saved, Colin Specht. Specht was riding in the passenger seat of his friend’s car when the friend crashed after apparently driving too fast. While the driver was able to get out of the car, Specht found himself trapped in the vehicle, which had caught fire.
Mark Harmon didn’t hesitate
Harmon was home with his wife at the time of the accident. While his wife called 911, Harmon sprang into action. Seeing the trapped youth, Harmon grabbed a sledgehammer and broke the window to the car, which the actor later admitted was dangerous.
“When I broke the window to get to him, it fed [the fire] oxygen,” Harmon told CBS New York in 2013. “The fire went from a two to a seven like that.” He quickly pulled Specht to safety, though the teen suffered third-degree burns over 30 percent of his body by the time he was freed. As an adult, Specht covered the scars from the accident with tattoos to serve as a constant reminder of his incredible luck that day.
Specht’s gratitude is unimaginable
“I owe everything to him,” Specht said. “I have no doubt that I would not be alive,” if not for Harmon, he continued. Specht deeply understood the risk that Harmon took to save his life. That’s what makes it so easy for him to admire the NCIS actor. “He had more to lose,” Specht admitted. “He had a wife, children, and the career based on his face and his looks. That’s true altruism.”
Despite the high praise Specht throws his way, Harmon refuses to be called a hero for his actions. “I won’t take credit for it, because if the car explodes and I’m there next to the car, then you’re talking about two young boys who don’t have a father,” said Harmon. “And you’d be doing this interview with my wife and talking about how stupid it was.” It’s beyond fortunate that Harmon not only escaped the dangerous situation with his own life, but saved that of the young man. Though he scorns the title of “hero,” that’s exactly what he was that day.
Thanks to his 16 seasons on NCIS, Harmon is practically a household name, which makes him the perfect target for tabloids to exploit. In 2019, Star published an article claiming Harmon’s wife wanted him to quit NCIS. A source told the publication that Harmon was being urged by wife Pam Dawber to retire so the couple could “travel and enjoy their lives together.” Gossip Cop checked in with our own source close to the situation. While they couldn’t go on the record, they did assure us that there was no truth to the outlet’s claim.