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Punter Mickey Groody, who was the driver of the car carrying Austin Jensen when he was injured, said teammates have responded with support.


Teammates give support

Driver Mickey Groody is awed and grateful for the outpouring of support shown by the FAU community following the accident that seriously injured safety Austin Jensen.

Originally published on 2/23/2010

by Chuck King

What punter Mickey Groody remembers most following the “very scary experience” of having the sport truck he was driving tumble across I-95 is the response he and injured teammate Austin Jensen received from the FAU community in the moments, hours and days following the accident.

“When we walked out of the emergency room, the waiting room was filled with teammates - probably 50 of them,” said Groody, describing the scene that greeted him, teammate Max Karrick and student trainer Kevin Thorton after they were examined by doctors at Delray Medical Center on Feb 13.

At that point the fourth passenger in the car, Jensen, was still in intensive care with a fractured skull and pelvis.

“That was one thing Austin had said - the first thing that he wanted to see was all his teammates,” said Groody, FAU's punter. “To see all of them there, that was really comforting to him.”

The comforting Jensen received actually began far earlier in the day and a series of fortunate serendipitous events that occurred within seconds of the accident.

Like Groody, teammates Willie Rose and Willie Floyd were riding on I-95 en route to the FAU football banquet. The pair sat in the back seat of a car driven by Rose’s father when Rose saw the undercarriage of a car spiraling 15 feet in the air just about a football field in front of them.

Rose watched what he first thought was a piece of metal fly off the flipping vehicle. Moments later he realized it was actually a person flying through the air.

Rose’s father positioned his car to block a couple lanes of traffic. Rose dialed 911, handed the phone to Floyd, and the pair jumped out of the car to help.

“As we were walking up to the person on the road, I saw someone crawling out of the car and it was Max. Then I saw Mickey. Then I saw Kevin Thornton,” Rose recalls. “My heart dropped. I was like, Oh my God, these are my buddies. This is insane.”

Groody’s Ford Explorer Sport Trac had been clipped by the driver of a Pontiac who lost control of her car after taking evasive action to avoid what the Florida Highway Patrol termed “reckless driving” by the operator of a blue Nissan SUV.

The driver of the Nissan sped away and has not been located. He faces felony charges, but police do not expect to find him. Groody was not cited in the incident.

Thorton and Groody escaped with cuts and bruises. Karrick suffered a concussion. Jensen, however lay unconscious in the middle of I-95.
“(Floyd and Rose) were huge,” said Groody, who had to struggle to get out of his seat belt before extricating himself from the car, which was still on its side. “That was the last thing I was expecting - to look out of the driver’s window and see Willie Rose there. It was just a comforting feeling.”

Rose and the others rushed over see Jensen only to find a man who said he had medical training already tending to their unconscious teammate. Like Rose, the man just happened to be traveling north on I-95 right behind the accident.

Nobody ever learned his identity.

“I don’t have his name but I really would like to thank him because he really helped the situation,” Groody said.

Like Rose and the mysterious medical Samaritan, an ambulance also happened to be on I-95 near Glades Road at the time of the accident. Moments after Rose arrived on the scene, paramedics were there, too, tending to Jensen.

Rose and his teammates stayed close by.

“We were just talking to him, trying to calm him down so he heard a friendly voice,” Rose said.

Once at the hospital, Sandra Groody, Mickey’s mother, stayed on the phone with Jensen’s parents, providing updates as they made the long journey across the state to Delray Beach. FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger was there, too, lending his support.

Jensen was awake and alert on Saturday night. He spent a few days in intensive care before being moved back to the general population. No release date is set.

He’s been hospitalized for more than a week, now, yet the visitors keep coming.

“It is not just the teammates, everyone who has to do with the football team has shown up,” said Groody, who returned to classes this week. “The hospital says they’ve never seen so many people come to visit a person on a steady basis. They say they can usually tell who they are going to visit because (the visitors) are so big.”

Fans and friends wishing to send cards to Jensen can address them to:

Austin Jensen
c/o Kartrina McCormack
FAU Tom Oxley Athletic Center
777 Glades Rd.
Boca Raton, FL 33431

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