ANDOVER, Mass. (WWLP) - A local hero died after a tragic car crash in Andover. Twenty-three year-old Mark Ecker II died after the car he wasriding crashed along I-93 in Andover.
Preliminary investigation by the Massachusetts State Policefound, a 1996 Pontiac Sunfire coupe driven by 21-year-old StephanieOrtiz of Lawrence was traveling in the right travel lane of Route93 South when she lost control and rolled over an embankment. Eckerwas apparently not wearing a seat belt and was ejected during thecrash.
Ecker was taken by ambulance with serious injuries to LawrenceGeneral Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Ortiz was also taken by ambulance to Lawrence General Hospitalwith minor injuries.
Saturday morning, from the family's home on Mereline Avenue,Mark Ecker Sr. told 22News "it's devastating, I've lost a son. Iwant him back and I'm not going to get him back."
The East Longmeadow man was a true American hero and Armyveteran. "I just hope everybody remembers him for his love ofcountry," said his father.
He was celebrated across the country by former President Bushand by fellow citizens of Western Massachusetts, and was therecipient of the Purple Heart.
In February 2007, the East Longmeadow man escaped death after animprovised explosive device went off as he patrolled the streets ofRamadi inside Iraq. It was Sgt. Ecker's second tour.
While recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, doctorsfitted him with two prosthetic legs that took him on a newjourney.
In the months to follow, he was treated to a hero's welcome backhome and those tributes never stopped.
In September of that year, the Red Sox fan threw out the firstpitch at Fenway Park, which was a lifelong dream.
Ecker was honored in countless parades and ceremonies in thepast two years.
Most recently, "Homes for Our Troops" announced it was raisingmoney to build Ecker a specially designed home to help the localhero.
Ecker leaves behind his mother and father and twosiblings. Funeral arrangements are still incomplete.