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Miami Hit & Run Victim: “I’m Getting Better”

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January 2, 2014: Ismael Martinez, 48, had his leg amputated after a driver hit him in December 2013.   (Source: CBS4)

January 2, 2014: Ismael Martinez, 48, had his leg amputated after a driver hit him in December 2013. (Source: CBS4)

Peter-D'oench-600x450 Peter D'Oench
Peter D'Oench is a reporter for CBS4 News. He came to CBS4 from ...
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South Florida Crime

MIAMI (CBS4) — A Miami father who lost part of his left leg in a horrific hit-and-run accident is thanking a Good Samaritan who may have saved his life and says the woman who’s accused of hitting him should not be driving.

Forty-eight-year-old Ismael Martinez spoke with CBS4’s Peter D’Oench in an exclusive interview inside his room on the 3rd floor of the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Despite four surgeries, Martinez told D’Oench that surgeons at JMH were not able to save his leg because he had a series of infections after they tried to re-attach his severed limb and he said they had to amputate his left leg below his knee.

“I’m getting a lot better,” said Martinez. “For 12 days I went without sleep. I was in a lot of pain.”

He is coping with the fact that part of his leg is gone.

“This is super difficult,” said Martinez in Spanish. “I feel like I lost my leg.”

“I remember only the impact,” said Martinez about the accident.

Miami Police say it happened around 7:30 a.m. at 701 S.W. 64th Avenue on Monday, December 15th. Martinez and his son Fadel Duarte were laying concrete when suddenly a Ford Explorer raced by the scene, according to witnesses, and struck Martinez and knocked him to the ground and slightly injured his son.

Police say the driver kept on going. Thirty-one-year-old Johanna Cabrera was arrested nearby and was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with an injury and two other traffic offenses including driving with a suspended license. She’s still in jail and is being held on $26,000 bond and faces and arraignment on January 6th.

“I feel uncomfortable, I feel bad,” said Martinez. “She should have called rescue. She should have called 911. She hit me and she left. It hurts me. It’s not human. I feel this woman shouldn’t be driving in the streets.”

At a bond court appearance, a Judge ordered Cabrera not to drive until a further order from the court. According to her original arrest report, detectives said she was very remorseful and claimed she hadn’t realized that she had struck someone.

The day after the accident, police showed CBS4 her vehicle from a police impound lot. Its windshield was cracked and there was extensive damage to the right bumper and right side of the vehicle.

Medical Assistant Jenny Guevara may have saved Martinez’s life when she heard him screaming and ran to help him.

“I heard him screaming and I came out running,” she said. “I was actually in my pajamas. “I saw him down on the ground and my first instinct was to help him. I asked his son who was with him if he had anything I could and I was able to put on a tourniquet on him and stop the bleeding. I immediately called 911.”

“I like to help people,” she said. “And that’s why I reacted that way to help him. Now that he’s doing better I am glad I could help him.”

When D’Oench asked Martinez about this Good Samaritan, he smiled and said, “I’m very happy. Super happy. For me she’s been a second God.”

Martinez, who has a 5-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son and is married, said he has insurance but does not know when he can return to work.

“It’s going to be difficult doing some things in construction like getting up on a roof and yes, definitely I am worried,” he said. “I have children to support.”

He thanks everyone for their support.

“I’m very happy and elated that people have concerns about me,” he said. “It keeps me moving forward. The hospital has treated me well. And my mother even came here from Nicaragua.”

This past year was a truly difficult year for Martinez. He also had a heart attack last May. “It was not a mild one,” he said.

Martinez will be at the Ryder Trauma Center for at least another week and will need extensive therapy. He hopes to eventually be fitted for a prosthetic leg. It will be months before he’ll be able to walk again.

“I am told it could be a year before I can walk normally again,” he said.

Martinez said he was trying to remain optimistic.

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