Lower Merion firefighter returns to lacrosse field after I-76 crash

A volunteer Lower Merion firefighter is back doing what he loves after recovering from an accident on I-76 last summer.

Sam Shaffer, 18, is back with the Lower Merion High School's men’s lacrosse team as he makes his debut back on the field this week after recovering from severe injuries caused by an accident that seriously injured one of his colleagues and killed another. 

Back on July 24, around 3 a.m., emergency crews responded to a crash involving two vehicles in the westbound lanes of I-76 in Lower Merion Township.

At 3:23 a.m., authorities say Jacquelyn Walker, 63, was operating a Jeep Grand Cherokee in the right lane as she approached the scene of the crash. They say she then crossed over the rumble strips on the side of the highway and plowed into the crash scene, injuring Shaffer and his friend, Alex Fischer and killing firefighter, Tom Royds. 


Shaffer was flown from the scene of the accident to Penn Presbyterian where he spent about a week with a brain bleed, fractured eye socket, broken leg, and a torn ACL and MCL. 

Now, Shaffer is back in both uniforms, and he says he owes it all to his family and his never-give-up attitude. 

"It feels great finally getting back out with the family, the team, firefighting again, it feels great," he said. "Mentally it was just to keep pushing, keep going forth. The never-give-up attitude. That’s always what I told the team—never give up." 

Shaffer gave everything he had into getting better after that summer day that forever shook his parents. 

"Sam’s accident happened the day before my 55th birthday and when he opened up his eyes, that was the best birthday present I could have, so seeing Sam on the field right now, there are no words," said Shaffer’s mom, Kathy Shaffer.

Shaffer’s firefighting family has been behind him the entire way as they all make sure to keep their fallen brother and injured friend close. 

"It’s obviously hard, but you never forget," said Shaffer. "You always go back to the truck, you always pray for them. I had on my helmet his name and the other firefighter we lost so I never forget."