WRECKAGE SCRAP METAL — The green 2008 Honda Accord driven by Maribel Martinez with her two boys were involved in a two-car hit and run collision at the intersection of Green Valley Road and State Route 21, at approximately 1:15 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16.

MABTON — A family’s holiday wish to bring their two sons home from Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in time for Christmas was the gift bestowed upon Maribel Martinez and husband Edgar Garcia following a horrific car crash at the intersection of Green Valley Road and State Route 241 on Wednesday, Dec. 16.

“I just thank God that my kids are still alive,” Martinez expressed during an interview on Thursday, Dec. 31. “They’re doing better. We’re taking it day by day.”

Arturo, 11, and Eduardo Garcia, 12, were released from the westside trauma facility after being treated for neck and spinal cord injuries and arrived home two days before Christmas, she said.

Both boys will spend the next couple of months recuperating and wearing rigid cervical collars while Eduardo’s brace constrains the head and chest together, Martinez described. Her sons suffered multiple bone fractures which doctors expect will take about six to eight weeks to heal.

She continues to experience severe pain in her right shoulder. The working mother of three is unable to lift her bruised arm and displays a restricted range of motion.

Martinez works at the 24-hour Shell station truck stop in Sunnyside and for Columbia Crest Winery but has had to take a leave of absence from both jobs to take care of the kids while they recover. She indicated the fuel station will hold her job until she is able to return.

Her 2021 New Year resolution for taking it one day at a time as the family begins to mend from the physical and emotional trauma of the wreck is their primary goal. She revealed the road home from Seattle encompassed an uneven range of emotions for her.

“It was so hard to get back in the car to come home, I practically cried halfway here,” Martinez expressed. “There’s times I can’t even sleep at night because I have nightmares of that night. It feels like it’s real again but then I wake up and we’re here at home.”

Crash scene

Law enforcement agencies and rescue personnel responded to the initial call of the hit and run car incident on Green Valley Road, five miles south of Sunnyside at approximately 1:15 a.m., according to the Washington State Patrol report.

A black 2013 BMW 328 car driven by Brandy Flores, 29, of Grandview was traveling westbound and approaching Sunnyside-Mabton highway when she failed to stop her car at the stop sign and struck Martinez’s green 2008 Honda Accord, WSP Trooper Mitchel Kroner cited.

The violent impact from the collision and subsequent crash resulted in her sons, who were not wearing seatbelts to be ejected from the vehicle. Martinez was unconscious and remained restrained within the driver’s compartment, the 38-year-old Mabton resident said.

“When the car hit us, I blacked out and woke up from the sound of the horn. When I didn’t see my kids, I went into panic mode,” Martinez described.

The frantic mom was immersed in locating her boys and recalled there were three people, two men and one woman, helping her before first responders arrived at the scene. After she found Arturo, Martinez was pleading for their help in locating Eduardo.

One of the guys at the wreck found her older son lying face down in the dirt which prevented him from calling out for her, she explained. The grateful parent could not remember what the man looked like or what his name was, but she knew his selfless actions had made a long-lasting effect on her family.

After fleeing the scene, troopers were able to eventually locate Flores WSP Communications Officer Courtney Watts confirmed on Dec. 16.

Social engagement

As Martinez reflected on the early morning car crash scene from her comforting sofa in the living room, she continues to pose questions about the case which remains under investigation.

Her voice lowered with disdain regarding the cruel actions exhibited by Flores – the driver on record or for anyone else who may have initially been behind the wheel – and how they could flee the scene without a fragment of remorse at what they caused.

The wrecked Honda Accord is presently being evaluated by the insurance company and she hopes to be able to retrieve her personal belongings that remained in the car. “I want to make sure someone pays for what they did,” Martinez conveyed.

Prior to leaving Harborview, she spoke with WSP Detective Scott Millenbach about the case.

“She was taking the blame, that’s what he told me and that’s it,” Martinez stated. “I asked him, ‘The person that did this, is she or he in jail?’ and he didn’t say anything.”

While the parents were bedside with their children at the Seattle hospital, an individual who goes by the name Shane from his fake Facebook account (used primarily for sales on Marketplace) of ‘Shawn Mcgigles’ reached out on Messenger to Martinez and enquired about her and the boys on Saturday, Dec. 19.

The person explained in a series of prior messages on the social media site to a family friend that he was first on scene and found the oldest boy. He wanted to contact Martinez if possible.

Shane wrote, “I will never forget the look on her face when she kept yelling at me to find her son.”

The family friend thanked him for helping Martinez and her boys. She wished they knew his name and urged him to contact WSP Det. Millenbach.

He was asked if he saw the person who was driving and how many people ran from the scene.

Shane replied, “No, I wish I did. But the events that took place during and after the wreck say she wasn’t driving.”

“What would that mean?” she asked.

He responded, “It would be too hard to put into text.”

Once again, she asked him to come forward with what he witnessed that morning. The family friend stressed to him, “Sounds like you’re the only one that can help these boys and the family with the truth because we know who did this won’t do what’s right.”

Patrick Shelby can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 110 or email PShelby@SunnysideSun.com

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