‘NCIS’ Star Mark Harmon Became a Real-Life Hero, Once Save Two Teens From Exploding Car

by Jacklyn Krol
Photo: Tibrina Hobson, Getty Images

NCIS star Mark Harmon doesn’t just play a hero on the small screen, he is in real life as well.

In 1996, Harmon at home in Brentwood with his wife, Pam Dawber. Two teenagers were driving and crashed their car into a tree and flipping over, right outside his home.

One of the boys got out of the car himself. Colin Specht was trapped inside as the car became engulfed in flames. Harmon broke the window with a sledgehammer. Specht was on fire after being pulled out of the vehicle by the men. The two rolled Specht on the ground to put out the fire.

Specht suffered third degree burns and was hospitalized for months.

A local fire department spokesperson, Brian Humphrey, said at the time, “Mr. Harmon broke out the car windows and pulled the boys to safety. The youths owe their lives to the action of Mr. Harmon.”

Specht told CBS 2 years later that without Mark Harmon, “I have no doubt that I would not be alive.”

“He tugged me, because I was still upside down with the seat belt in, and he ripped me out of the car,” he recalled.

Although Mark Harmon was undeniably a hero, he said that his wife, Pan Dawber, deserved the credit.

“She’s the one who went to the scene,” he previously said in an interview at the time. “She was the first one there. She’s the one who said ‘Get a sledgehammer.'”

He later added, “I never felt more at ease about doing anything in my entire life. And there’s no explanation for that. None…”

Mark Harmon’s Connection to Gibbs

Mark Harmon has a few connections to his longstanding NCIS character, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Harmon is also the son of a military veteran in real life.

“He raised me hard,” he admitted. “And when I say hard, I mean hard. I was taught to fight for everything and that the only way to go about getting something was with everything you had.”

Finally, he learned carpentry at a young age from his father. He appreciated it once again after landing the role of Gibbs, where he could put his skills to the test.

“I used to hang out in my dad’s workshop on weekends,” he told Sunset. “Later, when I was starting out as an actor, I became a roofer and a framer to make money. But what I really enjoyed was finish work. I like the longevity of it: If you do it right, it will be around a lot longer than you are.”