BRENTWOOD (CBSLA.com) — Before he was a special agent on television, NCIS star Mark Harmon played a real-life hero to a local man when an accident trapped him inside a burning car in front of the star's Brentwood home.
Colin Specht credits Mark Harmon with saving his life 17 years ago. In January of 1996, the then-16-year-old Specht was riding shotgun in a car with his friend in Brentwood.
His friend was driving too fast, and slammed on the brakes at the last minute. As the car turned, Specht's side of the car was the first to strike a brick wall.
His friend was able to escape, but Specht was trapped in the car, which quickly caught fire.
Specht said someone came to his aid by breaking a window open with a sledgehammer and pulling him out of the car.
"He tugged me, because I was still upside down with the seat belt in, and he ripped me out of the car," said Specht. He said people were rolling him into the street as they pulled him out because his clothing was on fire.
The then-teenager suffered third degree burns from the accident and was hospitalized for months.
His parents later told him the accident had happened in front of Harmon's Brentwood home on Bristol Avenue, and it was the actor who had pulled him from the burning car.
"I owe everything to him," said Specht. "Everything in my life."
"I have no doubt that I would not be alive" without his help, he said.
"When I broke the window to get to him it fed oxygen," said Harmon. "The fire went from a two to a seven like that."
The fire was so intense that Harmon said it had burned through the teen's seatbelt.
Harmon did not comment on the incident at the time, and refuses to take credit today.
"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."
But Specht, who has tattoos over some parts of his body as a way of dealing with extensive skin grafts, said he is forever in the actor's debt.
"He had more to lose than most people would at that point," said Specht, who met Harmon and his wife, Pam, after the crash.
"He had a wife, children," he said. "Not only that, he had the career that was based on his face and his looks."
Seventeen years later, Specht works as a personal trainer. He is grateful for his life and his health every day, he said.
"There's no way I can karmically repay him, except for pay it forward," he said.
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