Dan Kennedy's Moment of Truth

The goalkeeper survived a head-on collision while in college

Dan Kennedy Mercedes Benz Video Still

Photo Credit: 
Mercedes Benz/MBUSA

Chivas USA fans have seen goalkeeper Dan Kennedy soar through the air to make a spectacular save, get right back up, encourage his teammates, and flash his trademark smile. However, when Kennedy was 21, a car accident caused him to come within inches of not even being able to walk.

On October 11, 2003, during his junior year of college, Kennedy was driving on the 101 freeway in Santa Barbara with his father in the front passenger seat and his mother and roommate’s father, Greg, in the back. The Kennedys were returning home after dinner with his roommate’s family at The Hitching Post, a popular Santa Barbara area restaurant. At around 10:00 PM Kennedy’s car went over a small blind rise, leaving him no time to get out of the way of an approaching drunk driver who was going the wrong way in the fast lane. The resulting accident was, according to Kennedy, “extremely violent.”

 “I keep thinking about the timing of it all,” Kennedy said. “If I had just gone to the bathroom at the restaurant, or set the cruise control at a different speed, then the timing would have been different.”

After the impact, Kennedy’s mother, who was going in-and-out of consciousness, was taken to the hospital while Dan’s father had to make the choice of going with her or waiting for his son, who was trapped in the car. Dan, his legs stuck underneath the dashboard, told his father to go to the hospital while he waited for nearly an hour before being freed.

Meanwhile, Dan’s sister was at home making frantic phone calls to find out the severity of the accident. Greg’s wife and son, who were driving in a separate car, arrived desperate to know everybody’s condition. Greg’s brother-in-law rode by the crash and thought to himself, ‘nobody survived that accident,’ not knowing who had been in the car.

Miraculously, the Kennedys and Greg were well protected by the frame of the car, and not seriously injured.

“The moment in the hospital, when we all came together and realized that everybody was OK, was unexplainable,” Kennedy said.

Despite the physical and emotional toll of the accident, Kennedy managed to play in his team’s soccer game the next day, and his mother was released from the hospital in time to watch him play. Kennedy’s teammates rallied around him, and scored four goals in the first 15 minutes of the match.

After the accident, Kennedy felt compelled to write a thank you note to Mercedes Benz expressing his gratitude for how the car had saved his and his family’s lives, addressing the letter simply “To whom it may concern.” About a month later, Kennedy received a call from Mercedes Benz asking him if he’d like to film a commercial about the experience. Kennedy instantly said yes, and the family was featured in a video entititled, “Faithful.”

More recently the Kennedys sat down for an in-depth interview with Mercedes about the accident, the footage of which now appears in an advertisement on Mercedes Benz’s Facebook page entitled “The What If Game.”

“They say time heals all wounds, and you almost forget how you felt,” Kennedy said. “Doing the interview for Mercedes, it brought back emotions that I had not felt in a long time. But seeing that video brought back a lot of emotions I did not know I still had because I thought I dealt those feelings.”

After the horrific crash, the Kennedys remained loyal Mercedes Benz customers, and now drive a 2007 E350. They are also active in efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving. The crash, and the “what if game” that Kennedy has been playing in his head ever since, have also given him some perspective on the back-to-back season ending injuries the keeper has suffered.

“All athletes deal with adversity, and that is why this is so special, what we do. We are so lucky to be able to do this.”