TAMPA — After two years of biding his time, this was to be the year Carrollwood Day School junior Spencer Peek stepped into his role as leader of the Patriots’ offense.
On Aug. 17, however, that all changed.
Peek was involved in a single-car crash, resulting in the teenager sustaining 17 broken bones, including both arms and legs, his pelvis and bones in his back. Though he suffered a concussion and briefly lost consciousness, there was no brain damage.
Since that horrific night, Peek has been through three corrective surgeries, his most recent a six-hour ordeal Tuesday on his arms, which were broken in four places. Peek also had to have his femur, tibia and fibula repaired, and plates and screws were implanted in his pelvis.
“We’re lucky he’s alive,” said Dan Peek, Spencer’s father and an assistant coach at CDS.
According to a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office report, Peek was traveling south on Cheval Boulevard at Wimbledon Court at 9:53 on a Sunday night, when his vehicle crossed the solid yellow center line and continued off the roadway to the left, traveling with the driver’s-side wheels on the shoulder for 100 feet before striking a speed limit sign.
According to a witness, Peek’s vehicle continued another 20 feet before striking an oak tree. After hitting the tree, the vehicle rotated counterclockwise, re-entered the roadway and traveled 70 feet sideways before coming to rest.
Peek’s parents got a call about the accident and arrived at the scene around the same time as paramedics. Dan Peek rode in the ambulance with his son to the hospital.
“You can’t say enough good things about the firefighters of Hillsborough County and staff at St. Joseph’s (Hospital),” Dan Peek said. “We are blessed with these people in our community.”
Many of Peek’s teammates visited him in the hospital. When CDS played at St. Edward’s in Vero Beach in the preseason classic Aug. 22, the players put Peek’s jersey and pads on the bench. The Patriots won 26-0.
“My team has supported me immensely through this difficult process,” Spencer Peek said via text. “I still intend to be as much as a help to the team as physically possible despite my injuries. I know this team is going to do great things and I know it’s my job, as their teammate, to work hard to get better every day.”
With a heavy heart, Dan Peek traveled with the team to Vero Beach.
“Spencer insisted that I go to the preseason game with his little sister,” Dan Peek said. “I went, and I coached as best I could. My son was stable, and he insisted I go because he loves this team. He said, ‘Dad, they need you.’ ”
Peek played defensive back on the varsity team as a freshman, and he was the backup quarterback as a sophomore. Peek missed playing in the spring jamboree because of a broken collarbone.
“Losing his leadership hurts and his enthusiasm hurts,” said CDS coach Lane McLaughlin. “The last practice I saw him at, he got sick and puked, so we took him out. I turned my head and looked back and he was back leading the sprints.”
The Patriots play at Jacksonville University Christian tonight in the season opener, and the team will again have Peek’s jersey on the bench. Spencer Peek is hoping to be on the sideline for the team’s district opener against Indian Rocks Christian on Sept. 5.
Peek’s accident has had a profound effect on the team.
“It made us appreciate what we have,” said senior linebacker Max Frankel, one of Peek’s closest friends. “It kind of makes you step back and think about everything, not knowing when your last game is. It puts things in perspective.”
“God has put a (special) heart in him and He’s going to continue to move in him and he’s going to continue to come back from any challenge he has in his life,” said senior lineman Carlos Acuna.
Spencer’s recovery will take some time. Dan Peek said there is no guarantee that his son will return to the field. What matters most is that he survived a life-threatening situation.
“Spencer is truly grateful to be alive,” Dan Peek said. “He’s treated it as a second chance. That’s the most powerful thing I hear from him is he’s grateful to be alive and thankful to look forward to the next day.”