It wasn’t his usual routine.
But Del Mar Races employee David Martinez happened to be driving by a trailer up in flames Wednesday morning and made a startling discovery: A 7-year-old boy was trapped inside, inches from being burned.
“I couldn’t believe it at first,” the 38-year-old said. “Just, ‘Oh, you’re kidding – there’s a fire going on?’ Then I started getting really scared.”
He was scared because it was 5:45 in the morning and he knew people in the trailers were sleeping. He did a U-turn and came back to the trailer. Then, he honked his truck horn repeatedly.
“I could see fire coming out of here and smoke billowing across the front, so I came up and just pounded on the door as loud as I could,” Martinez said.
Martinez opened the trailer door and saw the flames. When he started crawling on the floor, he had to turn back when he heard a small voice. But he couldn’t see past all the smoke.
He went to a window outside the trailer where he could finally make out that a small boy was inside.
“When I pulled this window open the little boy was sitting right in here and his head was here,” Martinez said. “His legs curled up. I just reached in and grabbed him.”
How close to the flames was the boy?
“Right around his head,” Martinez said. “It was pretty intense.”
The boy, the son of an exercise rider, is doing OK and his father is grateful for Martinez’s heroics. The blaze was determined to be an electrical fire.
As for Martinez, he doesn’t consider himself a hero, although the whole track has given him that distinction.
“I can’t say I didn’t think about it. Just wasn’t an option, especially when you hear the little voice,” he said. “What do you do? I’m just glad I came back.”