Zac Kravatz died a hero, saving the lives of his family from a falling tree on Route 1 Aug. 18 while taking the brunt of the impact himself.

“I want people to know he was this amazing person who had a split-second to make a decision,” said his wife, Jenna Corbett. “He decided to save everybody else in the car but him, and probably on some level knew that there was a very good chance that would happen.”

It was about 1 p.m. on a beautiful August Sunday when Kravatz, 36, was returning from a weekend visiting family in north Jersey with Corbett and their two sons, Jackson and Porter, aged 4 ½ and 1 ½.

They were driving southbound on Route 1 near the Media, Newtown Square exit for Route 252 when calamity struck.

“All of a sudden, I saw out of the passenger-side window what looked like a tree was falling and I couldn’t believe it,” said Corbett. “Zac saw it and there was nothing that could be done. We were hitting the tree one way or the other.”

Kravatz cut the wheel to avoid the trunk, but the branches crashed into the car hood and roof, shattering the windshield and causing the airbags to deploy. Corbett and their boys were fine – as was the family dog, crated in the back – but Kravatz suffered what doctors at the hospital would later describe as “devastating” brain injuries.

“All of his injuries were from the neck up,” said Corbett’s sister, Katie Tully. “From the neck down, he was completely uninjured.”

Tully said as her sister described it, Kravatz either had the option of stopping and crashing into the tree – which would possibly flip the car – trying to go around it, or turning the vehicle. He chose to make the turn, likely viewing the other options as potentially harmful to his family.

But that was the way Kravatz was, according to Corbett and Tully: Always looking 10-steps ahead, always the first to offer a solution to a problem, always thinking of others ahead of himself. What more would you expect from a bona-fide Eagle Scout?

“We would be arguing about something and turn around to fix it, and it would already be fixed,” said Tully. “That was the kind of guy Zac was – that calm presence in the background that always took care of everything and everyone.”

Corbett had been driving earlier in the day but switched with her husband of 10 years at a rest stop, a move she considers something of a blessing because she does not think she would have reacted as quickly.

After the crash, she said bystanders rushed to their aid, extracting Corbett and her sons from the vehicle, but Kravatz could not be reached. She said it took emergency responders approximately 15 to 20 minutes to free him from the car before he was rushed to Crozer-Chester Trauma Center and into surgery with two top neurosurgeons.

Kravatz spent four days in the intensive care unit before succumbing to his injuries Aug. 22, surrounded by family members. Corbett said it was quickly determined there was little chance her husband would ever wake up and, if he did, he would likely require constant care for the rest of his life. The decision was made to see if he could breathe on his own, but unfortunately he could not.

But even in death, he continued to help six others by supplying viable organs, Corbett said, including valves for babies.

It was the second drastic blow Corbett has been dealt in the past five years. Jackson and his twin brother, Cooper, were born very prematurely in 2015 and spent three weeks in the NCIU. Cooper died at just 6 months old.

Corbett had the unwavering support of her husband during that tragedy and the two poured themselves into Jackson. She said she now plans to do the same with their two children, though this time without Kravatz’s help. While she does have the support of other family members, she said she is mostly just trying to keep it together for her kids, to be mommy when she is with them and to hold the tears in until she is alone.

“I’ve never met anybody stronger than her,” said Tully. “To have to go through all of that and still be able to get out of bed, take care of her kids, go to work. It’s just a testament to the kind of person that she is, the kind of people that they are.”

“Right now, there’s a lot of people around,” said Corbett. “I think next week, the week after, when everybody goes back to their lives … I think it definitely will (hit) when I’m sitting there watching TV by myself.”

Kravatz and Corbett were temporarily staying with his parents while house hunting, but Corbett said she wants to give the boys their own home as soon as possible to help get them on stable footing. A fundraiser for the family on Gofundme has so far garnered nearly $68,000 to help offset expenses.

Meanwhile, the question of why the tree fell in the first place and whose responsibility it is remains unanswered. Representatives for PennDOT who might know were unavailable Friday. Corbett said she has contacted an attorney and sought the help of an arborist to help determine a cause.

A memorial service for Kravatz was held Tuesday with lines stretching out the door. Corbett said her husband was “an acquired taste,” but once he made friends, it was for life.

Michael Espinosa, his best friend and best man at his wedding, described Kravatz in eulogy as “a good force of nature,” a stalwart friend who was always there to challenge, encourage, advise and have fun with you, even – or especially – when the chips were down.

“Zac stood up for his family, stood up for his friends, stood up for me even when it wasn’t a safe bet; he fought for his family, fought for his friends, fought for me when I was too weak,” Espinosa said in the eulogy provided by Tully. “He loved me and all of his friends as family, and you knew that his love was never going to change because once you were in with Zac, you were in for good.”

Many at those at the service wore superhero shirts to honor his memory and Kravatz himself was wearing a Captain America shirt, the edge of the shield visible under his button-down shirt. His two sons wore shirts reading, “My daddy is my superhero.”

“He truly is,” said Tully. “He saved their lives.”

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