Officer Mark Priebe joined the police force at the age of 21 and considers his work in law enforcement a calling. Hoping to make a difference, Mark graduated the police academy and started serving the community of Aurora, Missouri. There, he met his future wife, Heather, who was working at St. John Hospital in Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Wanting to be at a larger agency with more advancement opportunities, Mark moved to Springfield, Missouri, where he completed the requirements to become a patrol officer. From there, he supported numerous departments to include patrol, the traffic unit and community services.
Springfield is also where Mark and Heather got married and started their family.
On June 9, 2020, while on duty in the police headquarters, Mark responded to a disturbance in the front of the building. While assessing the situation with his Sergeant, Mark was intentionally run over by the suspect who set out to ‘run over a cop’ that day. “He texted a friend that morning with his plan,” said Mark. “He pulled into the parking lot, turned his wheels toward me and accelerated, striking me, and dragging me underneath the vehicle.” Due to the vehicular assault, Mark sustained severe road rash, multiple rib fractures, and a broken back that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
After surgery and specialized spinal cord injury rehabilitation, Mark returned to Springfield to be with his family. Unfortunately, because his home wasn’t wheelchair accessible, he had to stay in a handicapped accessible hotel room. The family lived apart while modifications were made to their home, which was particularly hard on Mark. “I still have bad days and still get upset or frustrated with limitations, but I also know there are others worse off than me,” Mark reflected. “I always go back to the fact that I could have and probably should have died, which means I would not be able to be with my family and still have a future.”
Embracing life, Mark has developed new interests. “I have realized there are new things I can and want to learn like golf and biking as a paraplegic. These are just a couple of activities that we can all do together as a family.”
Mark looks forward to the accessibility a Gary Sinise Foundation specially adapted, smart-technology home will bring him so he can participate more fully in family life. “My wife was battling cancer when I had my accident, and she’s been my rock through this whole ordeal. I want to do more to help out and contribute around the house.”
The Gary Sinise Foundation looks forward to building Mark, Heather, and their two kids a forever home where they can put down roots and spend quality time enjoying all that life has to offer.