Tribute to Todd Martinez

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I wanted to take a moment today to pay tribute to High Point Firefighter Todd Martinez who died last weekend after a hit-and-run bicycle crash.

Anytime I hear of a death like this, I am saddened because accidents like these don’t have to happen if only drivers would share the road and give cyclists the respect they deserve. But Martinez was more than a name on the news for us here at Deuterman Law Group.

He was one of the first responders who joined us a few years ago in our fight against the bad workers’ comp reform bills. He was even featured in one of our television ads for Protect N.C. Workers.

I am still grateful to Martinez and the other first responders who stood with us in fighting that bad series of bills. They were instrumental in defeating the worst provisions of the proposed legislation.

We are heartbroken over the loss of a hero like Todd Martinez. From our own experience with him and what we have learned after his death, we know Martinez was a leader, a professional, a hero, a family man, a loving husband and father of four, a true friend and a giver, even after death. (Martinez was an organ donor, and through this tragedy, he will help others.) He was also committed to educating teen drivers about dangerous and deadly behaviors, like texting while driving.

As High Point Fire Chief Reid said in an interview, “He is going to be sorely missed.”

Martinez and his wife Melanie were riding their bikes Sunday on Scalesville Road near their home in Summerfield, enjoying the unexpected springlike weather, I’m sure. A red truck struck Martinez from behind, then left the scene.

Police have charged Andrew B. Barham, 19, with felony hit-and-run.

Chief Reid described Martinez as “passionate about life.”

In the time that the Deuterman Law Group worked with Martinez on the Protect N.C. Workers campaign, we also witnessed his professionalism and his passion for promoting and protecting worker safety.

His death is a great loss, foremost for his family, friends and fellow firefighters, but also for our community. We lost a man who devoted his life to protecting people and standing up for others.

I can’t write about Todd Martinez’s tragic — and preventable death — without remembering another friend and local cyclist who died in much the same way. Cyclist David Sherman, whose wife was a teacher at our children’s school, died in 2009 after a motorist struck him on North Church Street. She also left the scene.

Martinez and Sherman are among six bicycle fatalities in Guilford County since 2009. Nationwide 800 cyclists are killed ever year and 43,000 are injured every year in collisions with motorists.

For Martinez and Sherman and the other cyclists who have lost their lives, we must learn to share the roads. Cyclists have as much right to be there as we do in our cars and trucks and SUVs.

If you are a driver or a cyclist, heed safety so we can share the road without more tragedies.

Do it for Todd Martinez. Please.

If you’d like to honor Martinez in another way, I encourage you to make a donation to VIP for a VIP, a program to teach students about fatal accidents involving teens. His family has asked for donations to the Todd Martinez Texting & Driving Fund, 2406 Farm Gate Road, Browns Summit, NC 27214.





2 Responses

  1. jim bailey says:

    When I learned of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Martinez’ tragic death, my heart ached for his wife and family. Upon learning more about his life, I now also grieve for his community and our state. We have lost someone with a love of the common man, a sense of justice, and the courage to do something about it.

    Another immediate concern I had was that justice would be done with respect to the crash itself. The state patrolman who was quoted in the article seemed to place the burden for avoiding these kinds of crashes on the bicyclist. I wondered if the DA would respond in the same vein. I was concerned that Mrs. Martinez would have access to good legal representation. Seeing this post on your site puts those fears to rest. Nevertheless, the public needs to be kept informed of the progress of this case, i.e., whether or not the criminal justice system in one of NC’s most populous counties will do justice for a law abiding bicyclist struck down by a negligent driver.

  2. Melanie, wife of Todd Martinez says:

    Dear Jim Bailey, RE: March 18, 2014 Thank you for your concern with respect to progress of this case against Andrew Bray Barham. In case you weren’t aware. Judge Craig sentence was 4 month in prison, 48 months probation & community service. Barham was arrested in July and is to appear in court on 11.19.14 for another Hit & Run/Property Damage. It was reported that he hit another vehicle with a truck he was driving and left the scene – again he was caught. Chet & I have met with John Faircloth, NC Republican House Representative to work toward stiffer penalties for human beings hit and killed like in Todd’s case.

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