Drugged wrestling coach choked driver, prosecutors allege

December 18, 2015

pillsA youth wrestling coach under the influence of prescription pills choked a teen driver and caused a rollover crash in Nipomo that has left a 10-year-old boy hospitalized for the last two months, San Luis Obispo County prosecutors allege. [Tribune]

In an Oct. 19 crash on Thompson Road, Elijah Olivas of Santa Maria suffered numerous fractures, head injuries, a failed kidney and a collapsed lung. Doctors placed Olivas in a coma and had to sever his hand and reattach it.

Olivas was fighting for his life in a Bay Area Hospital. He is now recovering in a Los Angeles hospital.

John Gilbert Martinez, a 57-year-old resident of Guadalupe, faces seven charges, including five felonies, stemming from the car crash.

During a two-day preliminary hearing, a 16-year-old who was driving the car that crashed testified Martinez was his wrestling coach and a family friend. Martinez would often driving him to practices, testified the teen.

The 16-year-old is referred to in court as Anthony.

On Oct. 19, Martinez took an unusual amount of pills before they picked up two other wrestlers, Anthony testified. The teen said he suggested going to a hospital because of the large amount of pills Martinez consumed, but the coach refused.

Anthony then insisted on driving, he testified.

Elijah Olivas

Elijah Olivas

Martinez continued to ingest pills after Anthony picked up the two other wrestlers. The other wrestlers were Olivas and Olivas’ 13-year-old brother, Jason.

While the car was traveling at about 65 mph, Martinez began to choke Anthony. Martinez knocked Anthony’s hands from steering wheel, causing the car to veer toward oncoming traffic, Jason testified.

Anthony over-corrected, and the car flipped and rolled several times. The crash threw Olivas from the vehicle, Anthony testified.

Defense attorney Angela Kowal said Martinez was trying to get Anthony, an unlicensed teen, to stop driving. Kowal also argued Anthony should have called his mother for help with Martinez, as opposed to driving.

On Thursday, Judge Jacquelyn Duffy ruled there is enough evidence to pursue the charges against Martinez. The Guadalupe man is scheduled to return to court on Dec. 30.



  1. Francesca Bolognini says:

    My question would have been more along the lines of “What pills?” and “Who prescribed them?”. It sounds like a really out of control drug situation here and the entrepreneurs with prescription pads are, IMHO very much at fault as well as whomever has been abusing the drugs. So, what about that? A child’s life is all but destroyed here and no one is questioning why a coach who is responsible for young people is that hopped up and where did the stuff come from? What about the adults responsible for these young people? No one noticed that this dude wass totally whack?

    (-6) 12 Total Votes - 3 up - 9 down
  2. the situation says:

    Elijah had a very promising career as a wrestler. His dedication and hard work was at a level that only true champions perform. All gone now. I can’t wait to see you rot Martinez, you’re going to get yours very soon

    (14) 18 Total Votes - 16 up - 2 down
  3. abigchocoholic says:

    Defense attorney Angela Kowal said Martinez was trying to get Anthony, an unlicensed teen, to stop driving.
    Really attorney? That’s your defense? Your client thought that choking the driver while the car was doing 65 on a freeway was an appropriate act to get the driver to stop being an illegal driver? Exactly how was that move going to get the driver out of the driver’s seat?

    Funny stuff. That defense was not run through the common sense filter.

    (25) 29 Total Votes - 27 up - 2 down

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