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HomeCommentaryCommentary: Random Acts of Kindness, Sept. 11, 2007

Commentary: Random Acts of Kindness, Sept. 11, 2007

The end of the longest day in Powerboat magazine history found us—the publication’s test team—camped in the brightly lit waiting room of a hospital in Tampa, Fla. Tom Newby, our photographer, had died that morning, Sept. 11, 2007, in a helicopter accident during a photo shoot and Mark Waters, the gravely injured pilot and the only survivor of the crash that also claimed the life of videographer Mark Copeland, was fighting for his life in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

We were waiting to see Waters and tell him how glad we were that he was still alive. We were waiting for his wife to arrive from Los Angeles. We were waiting to wake up from what we wanted so much to be just a bad dream, but knew was real.


Shown here during the 2015 Offshore Powerboat Association race in Atlantic City, N.J., Reverend Jim Black (in black hat) and offshore racer Marc Granet (third to the left from Black) supported the Powerboat magazine crew in ways that will never be forgotten on the day Tom Newby died.

Reverend Jim Black came to the hospital. A frequent face on Sunday mornings before offshore powerboat races, he was there to support the Powerboat magazine crew he’d come to know well during the years. And his support and kindness were desperately needed. It was as if we were all dying of thirst, and Black’s words of love and compassion were cool water.

About an hour after Black arrived, Marc Granet showed up. Now, you expect to see—but are forever grateful for nonetheless—a man of the cloth at a hospital following a tragedy, especially when that man is personally connected to the situation. But the driver of the Miss GEICO offshore raceboat?

Then again, the Marc Granet you think you know—the often outspoken face of the team—is only the public side of a good man with a great heart. The moment he heard we were at the hospital he got in his car and drove there.

Granet took one look at our haggard group and knew what he needed to do: He offered to take us to dinner. Jason Johnson, Jeff Johnston and I went with him. Gregg Mansfield, Vicki Newton and Bob Teague stayed back the hospital with Jim Black.

We didn’t want to go far so we ended up at a nearby Outback Steakhouse eating burgers. I don’t remember tasting the food, but I do remember the shot of Patron tequila we took in honor of Tom Newby, a big fan of that particular beverage. We weren’t gone for much more than an hour, but it was an hour for which—and I think I can speak for Johnson and Johnston (the Powerboat guys, not the bandage people)—we will be forever grateful to Marc Granet.

I’ve talked with Granet about that dinner a few times in the past eight years—it’s no secret that we’re close friends. He always says something like, “Well, that’s just what you do” or “Hey, it was no big deal.”

Of course, he’s dead wrong. It wasn’t what just anyone would do, and it was a very big deal. Thanks to the random acts of kindness of Marc Granet and Jim Black during the longest day of our lives, we were able—if only for a moment—to exhale.


Tom Newby

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