Boy forgives former coach who caused near-fatal crash

October 27, 2016
Elijah Olivas

Elijah Olivas

During a teary sentencing hearing in which even the judge cried, a former wrestling coach said he wished he could hug the boy he harmed during a drug induced crash. The boy said he had never seen his coach so emotional and that it felt good to talk to him. [KSBY]

John Martinez, 58, of Guadalupe, received a six-year prison sentence for causing the Oct. 2015 crash in Nipomo that resulted in Santa Maria boy Elijah Olivas, 10, temporarily losing his hand. Doctors severed and later reattached the boy’s hand. Elijah Olivas still suffers from vision and hearing loss and can only attend school three days a week.

On Oct. 19, 2015, Martinez was allegedly under the influence of prescription pills when he choked a teen driver and caused a rollover crash on Thompson road. The crash left Elijah Olivas with numerous fractures, head injuries, a failed kidney and a collapsed lung. Doctors also placed the boy in a coma.

Martinez’s sentencing hearing took place Wednesday in San Luis Obispo Superior Court. Martinez addressed the courtroom while sobbing.

“I’m so sorry. I wish I could hug you too, Elijah,” Martinez said.

The former wrestling coach said the hardest part of the ordeal was being away from Elijah.

“Never give up, Elijah. You’re going to wrestle, dude,” Martinez said.

Elijah Olivas said Wednesday was the first time he had seen Martinez in almost a year. Jason Olivas, Elijah’s father, read a victim impact statement.

Jason Olivas said that after sitting down and talking to someone he came to the realization that this was not done on purpose. Rather, it was something that happened on a bad day of our lives, he said. Jason Olivas said the family can now focus solely on Elijah’s rehabilitation.

A brief video showing Elijah Olivas’ road to recovery was played in court. The video brought the judge to tears.

The judge said there is a possibility that Martinez could be an inmate firefighter in Ventura. A restitution hearing is scheduled for January.

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I agree with Roy!

This whole incident could have been avoided, except for the drug abuse and other criminal behavior committed by John Martinez.

Parents need to do a much better job of researching the adults they entrust their children to, as I would not leave my child in the care of Mr. Martinez.

Just saying,


“Never give up, Elijah. You’re going to wrestle, dude,” Martinez said.

Yeah, but wrestling for his life after your gross negligence, coach, is not the wrestling he probably wanted to participate in. Now he’ll be wrestling just a little bit each day as he now gets to live with what you caused in your moment of weakness.

It is a tough break for everyone, especially the boys.