'A Night for Heroes' features father saved after car crash

UF Health Jacksonville doctors to be honored for their efforts

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Taylor family has so much to be thankful for. Mark Taylor's wife Melissa and his three daughter realize they are very lucky to have their husband and father still at their side. What they have gone through has certainly tested all of them. A year and a half ago, their lives changed forever following an accident on highway 90 near Macclenny.

"The only thing I remember is somebody opening my door and they said you've been in a bad car wreck, just be still," said Mark.

The airbag in Mark's truck deployed without warning. Mark was knocked out and slammed into a tree and his legs were shattered. He was airlifted to UF Health in critical condition. Mark's wife Melissa got the call at work.

"They kept saying they had to get him in the operation room, his legs, his legs, his legs," Melissa recalled.

"Every time someone comes in, with the skill set we have here, the approach is: We're gonna do everything we can with everything we have," explained Dr. David Skarupa, with the Department of Surgery at UF Health Jacksonville.

It was hours upon hours of surgery, and when Mark came out, his legs were swollen beyond recognition, in braces and pieced together like a puzzle. His right leg was in such bad shape that eventually even surgery couldn't help. His orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Hud Berry, gave Mark another option that could help ease the pain, and help him move forward. Mark and his family agreed that amputation gave him the best chance to recover.

"I look at how I can get the patient back into their life as soon as possible," Berry said.

"He told me he's going to have a much better quality of life," added Melissa.

There have been many difficult days, many struggles. Mark has been in and out of the hospital with painful rehab. But he has fought through each one. At the same time, there have also been many milestones. Mark vowed to walk out of UF Health without any help, and he did.  And one even more meaningful, Mark told his caregivers he absolutely had to be walking on his own by Senior Night at his daughter Masey's high school. In front of his family and friends, he did it.

"I think everything we've gone together makes us stronger. We bond. We feel there's nothing we can't do without each other," Melissa said.

Despite those achievements, and others, a year and a half after the accident, many challenges remain. He's still adapting to his prosthetic. However, slowly but surely, he is moving forward. And through it all, the difficult days and now the recovery, Mark and his family thank so many people at UF Health Jacksonville.

"I just thank them, I thank everybody at UF Health. From the bottom of my heart, I thank them that they took care of him that he's survived everything. It could have gone the other way," said Melissa.

UF Health Jacksonville's "A Night for Heroes: Soaring to Save Lives" event will be held Saturday, February 6. Channel 4 anchor Kent Justice is the emcee for this year's ceremony.