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Syracuse couple shows appreciation for area fire departments

By Abbey Woodcock

"On April 10, 2007 my life drastically changed forever."

These words were the opening lines of a letter written to the Elbridge, Marcellus, Mottville and Skaneateles fire departments, along with SAVES by Matthew Gardiner of Syracuse.

On that day, Matthew's wife Tracy was in a near-fatal car accident on the corner of Rte. 321 and Mottville Rd.

Thanks to the efforts of volunteers, they say, today Tracy is fully recovered along with their daughter, Seren. At the time of the accident Tracy was seven months pregnant. After being flown to University Hospital, doctors performed an emergency cesarean section the night of the accident.

The accident

Matthew is a teacher at Cicero-North Syracuse School and on the day of the accident he was home on spring break. Tracy teaches at Seward Elementary in Auburn and was ready to leave school when she ran into an old high school coach. She called Matthew to tell him that she would be staying a little late to catch up. Shortly after that, Matthew turned on the television and saw that there had been a serious car accident in the Town of Skaneateles on the corner of Mottville Rd. and Rte. 321.

"I was a little concerned," he narrates in the letter, "because sometimes she would take that way home, but I told her a couple of days earlier that it was better to take Route 5 because it was a better drive home, and safer, ironically enough."

Although he assumed that Tracy wasn't involved in the accident, he called her cell phone just to make sure. When she didn't answer, he wasn't immediately concerned as she had told him she would be talking to her old coach. He continued to call and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw her name on his caller ID. The relief quickly turned to panic as the voice on the other end was not Tracy but a New York State Trooper informing him that his wife had been in a serious accident and was being flown to University Hospital. The officer told him that they normally send someone to the house rather than call, but both addresses on Tracy's license hadn't been updated so officers had gone to Tracy's old apartment and then her parents' house, who weren't home at the time. The trooper offered to get an officer to Matthew's house to pick him up and take him to the hospital, but he declined since he lived nearer to the hospital.

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