A young life and talent lost to an impaired driver
By Eric Martinez
On the night of November 3rd, 2019, in Santa Fe, NM- Andrew Martinez picked up his friend Kevin Allende from his home. The two were headed out to promote an upcoming music concert to be held at the famed Meow Wolf art collective venue. Andrew was a successful Hip-Hop artist
and was known to his beloved fans across the country as Wake Self. He was my younger brother and I called him Andy.
The concert he was promoting was his new album release party. A project that was over 3 years in the making. The album entitled “Ready To Live” was scheduled to come out on November 7. He would never make it to the show. Shortly after Andy picked up Kevin the two were struck head-on by a drunk driver. The offender was traveling almost 90 MPH in a 35 MPH residential area on the wrong side of the road in a full-size pickup truck. The force of the crash crushed Andy’s mid-size sedan and sent it through an adobe style wall that lined the road. The wall was destroyed and Andy was pinned inside the vehicle. Kevin managed to exit the car and he laid prone on the sidewalk with a crushed pelvis, broken femur, and a compound fracture to his left arm. The truck flipped onto its hood and came to rest in the middle of a stoplight intersection. The intoxicated driver crawled out of the car and asked some bystanders in the area to help him flee the scene- they refused. He then tried to hide in some nearby bushes before the officers arrived on scene.
The morning after the crash I received a call from a mutual friend of Andy and mine. He said he had been contacted by a stranger through social media and was concerned that Andy was involved in a car crash the previous night. I called the Intensive Care Unit at Christus St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe immediately and they informed me they had an unidentified person in the ICU who had been in a wreck. I left my office in Los Alamos and drove to the hospital as fast as I could. I spoke to the social worker and nurse on duty and they took me to a room where I saw a young man lying in a hospital bed, unresponsive, intubated, and on life support. It was my brother Andrew Martinez. I had to call my parents and inform them of what happened and where I was. They had to make the long drive of 3 hours from their hometown of Gallup, NM to the hospital in Santa Fe.
Once we were all gathered the doctor informed us that Andy’s injuries were too severe to treat at their facility. He needed to be transferred to the level 1 trauma center at UNM-H in Albuquerque. We all drove down together aside from my mother who accompanied Andy in the ambulance. A short period afterwards we were informed that there was no hope and Andy would eventually become brain dead due to his injuries sustained in the wreck. I’ll never forget having to sit with my parents and confirm that it was the right decision to let Andy go. The cries of my mother and the look in my father’s eyes are burned into my memory. I had to call my youngest brother Dominic and inform him of what happened.
He was out of state going to college at the time. We stayed on the phone for the duration of the time the hospital staff removed the life support machine from Andy. His heart continued to beat for nearly 20 minutes before he was pronounced dead. I went home the next day and had to tell my sons- who were 8 and 9 years old at the time- that their favorite uncle was gone. Andy died little after 2:30am on November 5, 2019, at the age of 30.
That night we not only lost Andy, but my family would also go on to endure nearly 2 years of legal uncertainty. The drunk driver pleaded not guilty to charges that included DUI, great bodily injury, and vehicular homicide. There would be nearly a dozen court appearances that eventually led to a jury trial that lasted for 4 days. In a state that is notorious for light punishment on DUI convictions- we were lucky enough to have a jury convict the offender of all charges and the judge handed down a maximum sentence that wound up being 18 years with a mandatory 85% time served stipulation because it was considered a severe violent offense (SVO). Without flawless work of the Santa Fe Police Department and the joint efforts and due diligence from the first responders, medical professionals, District Attorney’s Office, and District Court of New Mexico- we may not have arrived at such a verdict. Andy’s story now serves as case law precedent for future tragedies- which hopefully will aid in prevention of such occurrences.
On behalf of the Martinez family- I would like to thank every law enforcement professional who serve and protect the communities they live in. We appreciate all the effort and help that brought the person that killed Andy to justice.