Martinez struck en route to Saturday skydiving practice
Second-year law student Alan Martinez, 31, was on his way to Chester, S.C., to practice for a national skydiving competition Saturday morning.
He was cruising down I-77 just before 6:30 a.m. when another car driving the wrong way down the interstate hit him head-on, landing him in the hospital, where he's currently in critical condition.
The suspect, Santos Gomez, 46, of Salisbury, N.C., was driving southbound in a northbound lane when he collided with Martinez near Blythewood, S.C., according to police. He will face charges of felony driving under the influence and an open container misdemeanor, according to Lance Cpl. Brent Kelly of the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
Each driver's speed is not yet clear, and the crash was still under investigation, Kelly said.
Martinez was airlifted from the scene to Palmetto Health Richland's intensive care unit and has been put in medically-induced coma while undergoing brain and abdomen surgeries.
Gomez was taken to Palmetto Health Richland by ambulance, where he is in stable condition, according to police. When he is released, he will be taken to the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, police said.
A Facebook page apparently run by Martinez's family reported that there is no damage to Martinez's spine and that he will not need back surgery.
Martinez is a member of an eight-way skydiving team training for a national competition taking place this coming October and has worked for Outdoor Recreation since July.
"He's a natural born leader and has really inspired everyone who works with Outdoor Recreation," said Blain Foley, the Outdoor Recreation coordinator. "He's still unconscious ... but he's showing signs of improvement, and, ultimately, that's great."
Martinez works with students on Outdoor Recreation's Challenge Course. Foley characterized him as a driven man who "wants to learn as much as he can."