It’s every parent’s nightmare: a phone call telling you that your teenager just had a car accident. But thanks to the kindness of a stranger, a horrifying experience quickly became a story of bravery and gratitude.
My daughter, Mary Claire, a junior at International School of the Americas, was driving home after completing a volunteer project at school. The sun was setting and those all-too-rare raindrops were beginning to fall. While making a left turn, Mary Claire’s car was struck by another vehicle at the intersection of McCullough Avenue and Basse Roads, spinning her car into oncoming traffic.
Enter Marcus Lopez, whose car was behind my daughter’s. He immediately took action, positioning his larger vehicle in front of hers to prevent a further direct hit from oncoming traffic. That’s right – a stranger risked his life and his property to make sure that my daughter was safe.
Marcus then rushed to the driver’s side, where my daughter was visibly shaken, her legs covered in glass. Thankfully, it was tempered glass that didn’t exist when I had a similar accident as a teenager. In shock, she was unable to move, although not physically injured. Marcus coaxed her out of her car and to safety on the side of the road.
His voice was soothing when I talked to him on the phone, and he made sure I knew that Mary Claire was OK. Without my asking, Marcus assured me he would stay until my husband and the police arrived at the scene. While they waited, Marcus told Mary Claire about a car accident he had when he was 16 years old. He recalled worrying that his dad was going to be furious, but instead his dad was grateful he wasn’t hurt.
Later that night, I sent a text to Marcus, thanking him for being our hero. I cry every time I read his response.
Marcus also has a precious daughter, who is only 4 years old. She’s too young for him to fathom what the teenage years will be like: dances, driving, and dates, and so many other happy/scary rites of passage. “I know that tomorrow has not been promised to us. I just try to live every day better than the last, to make the world a better place for my daughter and everyone else,” his text read.
It’s been more than month since my family’s chance encounter with Marcus, and I’ve realized that he helped me just as much as he helped my daughter. I literally see kindness every day now. All I had to do was look for it.
When I shared my story on social media, it became apparent that I’m not the only person drawn to stories of human kindness and connection. After hundreds of “likes” and comments, it seems that now more than ever, we are hungry for an everyday hero. As one of my friends commented, “There are angels among us.”
Mary Claire and I visited Marcus recently at the hotel where he is director of operations. I asked to see a photo of his little girl. He showed me a daddy-daughter selfie, daddy making a funny face and an adorable daughter with a girlish grin. Who knows what the world holds for his little girl? I am sure of one thing, though. With a dad like Marcus, she’ll grow up to be San Antonio Kind.
Mary Claire has eased back into driving, and I am still marveling at how my daughter’s car accident actually brought me joy and connection. I wonder what the ripple effect would be if we made it a priority to celebrate and share stories of human kindness in San Antonio. Do you have a story of San Antonio kindness to share? Please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.