John Gilbert Martinez Jr., the former Guadalupe youth wrestling coach accused of causing a rollover that left a 10-year-old Santa Maria boy without a hand, was sentenced to six years in prison.
A San Luis Obispo judge handed the sentence down on Wednesday.
Authorities say the 57-year-old Martinez attacked the driver of a 1995 Toyota Avalon in 2015 during an argument that escalated, and caused a rollover crash. Elijah Olivas, a 6th grade student at Tunnell Elementary School, was riding in the back seat at the time of the crash.
When the crash occurred, Elijah was ejected and suffered major injuries to his body and leaving him in a medically induced coma for days.
Martinez addressed Elijah’s family and expressed remorse.
“I am so sorry, I wish I could hug you too Elijah,” Martinez said. “Never give up Elijah, you gotta wrestle dude, you see blind people, you see people without arms and without legs, wrestle, you can do it dude.”
Elijah has since had his hand surgically re-attached. He talked about his recovery.
“They’ll give me this long foam tube and I’ll have to bend it,” Elijah said. “I’ll have to lay my hand on a chair and I’ll put a hot pack on it so all my muscles open up so we can do our exercises better.”
The judge, moved by what she was witnessing, praised the 12-year-old boy.
“The truth is we don’t have a lot of heroes in this world.. and when I was looking at your face and your smile, I felt that I was in the presence of a hero,” SLO County Superior Court Judge Jacquelyn H. Duffy said.
Martinez is eligible for parole in three years.