With the turn of a key, Marine Cpl. Michael Egan revved up a newfound freedom Wednesday as he drove off the lot of Jordan Ford in a Ford F-150 equipped with $18,000 in modifications to fit the double amputee’s needs.
“It gives me that freedom to go where I want to go and do what I want to do,” said Egan.
In May 2012, Egan lost both his legs after he stepped on a 40-pound improvised explosive device while doing a sweep in Afghanistan in preparation for a helicopter landing.
A self-proclaimed adrenaline junky, Egan doesn’t let his injuries slow him down. He recently completed scuba diving certification and plans to go surfing later this year.
“I’m also doing the MS 150 this year and training for the Warrior Games 2014,” he said.
His newly-modified truck can now keep him on the move with greater ease. Instead of braking and accelerating with foot pedals, Egan can control the car with his hands by using a controller reminiscent of a joystick.
“You accelerate by pulling it back and you brake by pushing it forward,” demonstrates Ty Beck, the mobility manager at Jordan Ford. “Then also, if he's not able to use his prosthetics for some reason, you have the crane in the back added to it and then the stowaway seat so he can get his wheelchair up to the cab.”
The crane can drop Egan’s wheelchair right next to the driver’s side door while the stowaway seat allows him to get up into the cab more easily.
“'Adapt and overcome,' as we say in the Marine Corps. I set my own goals,” Egan said. “You don’t think about all the things that hold you back. You think about, ‘What can I do now because of these injuries?’"
"At the end of the day, when somebody drives off, you know that you've made a real difference,” Beck said.
Egan created www.arisefromwar.com, where he blogs about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the challenges of returning home from way.