Tuesday, April 24 , 2018, 2:32 am | Fog/Mist 52º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Advice

Teen Testifies About Crash That Seriously Injured 10-Year-Old Santa Maria Boy

John Gilbert Martinez, 57, of Guadalupe faces numerous felonies in Nipomo accident

John Gilbert Martinez, 57, of Guadalupe faces seven charges, including five felonies, for allegedly causing the October crash that seriously injured a 10-year-old Santa Maria boy.
John Gilbert Martinez, 57, of Guadalupe faces seven charges, including five felonies, for allegedly causing the October crash that seriously injured a 10-year-old Santa Maria boy. (David Middlecamp / San Luis Obispo Tribune photo)

As a teenage wrestler attempted to drive his coach to the hospital, the coach began to choke him, the teen testified Wednesday in San Luis Obispo Superior Court, causing a rollover accident that seriously injured a 10-year-old Santa Maria boy who was a passenger.

John Gilbert Martinez, 57, of Guadalupe faces seven charges, including five felonies, for allegedly causing the October crash on Thompson Road in Nipomo.

Deputy District Attorney Lindsey Bittner said Martinez was under the influence of prescription pills and a potentially toxic level of methamphetamine when the accident occurred.

On Wednesday, the 16-year-old driver, referred to in court only as Anthony, testified during a preliminary hearing in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

According to his testimony, Martinez was his coach and family friend, who often drove him to wrestling practice.

On Oct. 19, he said, he saw Martinez take an unusual amount of pills before they went on to pick up two other wrestlers. Those wrestlers were brothers Jason, 13, and Elijah Olivas, 10, of Santa Maria.

Before they picked up the two younger boys, Anthony testified, he suggested they go to a hospital.

“I figured he had too many pills in his system,” the teen testified.

When Martinez refused to go to a hospital, Anthony insisted on driving the car, which was owned by the coach’s mother. After picking up the two younger boys, Martinez continued to ingest pills, Anthony said, causing the teen to again suggest going to a hospital.

At one point, he said, Martinez got out of the car and began walking away. But, Anthony testified, he feared his coach would overdose, so he forced him into the car, at one point slamming him to the ground in a wrestling takedown.

“We went to this neighborhood … and Johnny started acting crazy,” testified Jason, the older brother. 

After Anthony forced Martinez into the backseat, he told the two other boys to restrain the coach as Anthony drove toward Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria. Martinez ordered Anthony to slow down as he worked to free his hands, Anthony testified. Martinez began to assault the driver while the car was moving at about 65 mph, Jason said.

“He grabbed a seatbelt and started choking Anthony from behind the driver’s seat,” he testified.

At some point during the struggle, Anthony testified, Martinez knocked both of his hands from the steering wheel, causing the car to veer toward oncoming traffic. At that point, he over-corrected, and the car flipped and rolled roughly four times.

Just before the accident, Jason remembers, his little brother was trying to buckle his seatbelt, which had become unbuckled during the struggle with Martinez. The car came to a stop upside down, the two testified. Elijah was thrown from the vehicle. When he first saw the unconscious boy, Jason said he thought his brother was dead.

“I dropped to my knees and started crying,” he testified.

Anthony said he tried to shield Jason from the ghastly sight of his brother’s mangled body.

“Part of his arm was off the body,” he said. “I could see the bone of his right arm.”

Elijah’s severed hand had to be re-attached, Bittner said. He also suffered a collapsed lung and a broken pelvis.

The hearing continues Thursday.

[Click here to read more from the San Luis Obispo Tribune]

Patrick S Pemberton is a reporter with the San Luis Obispo Tribune. Contact him at [email protected]

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >