MARK MCCONKEY at home in Freedom on Sunday, July 29, with his dog Gretta, just one week after he was saved by strangers on Route 41 in West Ossipee. (Mellisa Seamans photo) (click for larger version)
August 02, 2012FREEDOM — From his lakeside home in Freedom on a beautiful sunny summer day, a setting meant for rest and relaxation, Mark McConkey and his dog Gretta spent time with this reporter sharing stories of support he has received since July 22, when passersby saved his life.
As reported last week, it was that Sunday afternoon when a passing motorist noticed "something just didn't look right" and stopped to help a man she thought was in trouble on Route 41 in West Ossipee. Her alertness set off a chain of events that would culminate in at least 15 people playing a role in saving his life. Once those Good Samaritans broke into his car and got him out and onto the ground, more help stepped in to give McConkey lifesaving CPR, and then others took over to keep him alive and make sure that he made it to the hospital.
Since our story was published last week, we have learned the names of others who were involved that day. They are Ted Farnham, an on-call firefighter from Litchfield; Riley Stanchina, an EMT with Ossipee Valley EMS; and EMTs Jeff Tavares and Paul Prouty who were on the North Conway Ambulance that took McConkey to the hospital. We continue to seek the names of anyone else who played a part in the events of that day, including a man who took off his shirt to be used as a pillow. Throughout the process of tracking down all those involved, one thing became clear: all of the folks contacted remain humble and argue they are not heroes but were just doing the right thing. But there is no one who has been more humbled by the experience than McConkey.
He recalls that he was driving on Route 41 heading home when he suddenly felt like "his body was shutting down." He likened it to the steps a computer goes through when it is shut down. He knew something was wrong and tried to turn back to the Ossipee Valley EMS garage to get help from EMTs but he didn't quite make it.
McConkey's two-year-old Rottweiler was in the car with him and one of the first passersby on scene said that she was sitting patiently in the backseat of the car with her head resting on McConkey's shoulder as if she knew something was wrong with her master. She let complete strangers smash through the passenger window of his locked car and lift him out of the car and onto the ground, never making a sound. Her reward was getting to ride in the police car as it raced to their home to notify McConkey's wife of the situation.
McConkey said the outpouring of support has just been phenomenal, with friends and family rallying around him, but also the unexpected. There was the local contractor that called to offer "whatever you need" so McConkey's contracting business didn't get behind on jobs. And he said, the people that have just come out of the woodwork that he would never expect to hear from taking the time to handwrite get well cards, proof of how wonderful it is to live in this part of the country.
As 2 p.m. July 29 rolled around, McConkey said he took notice that it had been one full week since he was given a second chance at life by complete strangers, a chance he is extremely grateful for. As doctors try to determine exactly what happened to cause his heart to stop that day, one told him what he knows full well, that he is lucky to be alive.
In true McConkey fashion there was also plenty of talk about local and state politics, something he is very passionate about. He plans to seek re-election as a state representative in November for District Three, serving the towns of Freedom, Madison, Tamworth, and Albany.