Sons' heroics save New York man after he's pinned under car
Ask Michael Martin who his heroes are, and he'll tell you they don't wear masks, capes or carry high-tech gadgets.
"How about a Broncos-wearing boy with a touch of Atlanta Falcons -- my 19-year-old and 25-year-old sons," Martin said of his children, graduates of Mount Everett Regional High School in Sheffield.
On Monday morning, the 54-year-old Hillsdale man went to check an oil leak on the silver Dodge Neon owned by his wife, Pamela.
Martin said he jacked up the front of the car, used chock blocks to secure the back tire in place, removed the front passenger side tire and slid underneath the car to locate the leak.
A medium stone gravel had been recently spread on the driveway surface he was working on.
The jack slid.
"All of a sudden -- bam! -- the car was on top of me," Martin said. He estimated 1,100 pounds of weight was pinning him down, compressing his chest, making it hard to breathe -- or shout for help.
His 25-year-old Broncos-loving son, Christopher, was at the home at the time with his girlfriend and baby. Christopher's girlfriend heard commotion.
"My girlfriend was in the front room and I was in the other room, when she shouted, ‘You have to come and help your dad.' My blood pressure was up and I moved as fast as I could," said Christopher.
His brother Evan, the 19-year-old Falcons fan, soon realized the shout he thought he'd heard wasn't coming from the television.
In an instant, ignoring the pain of the fender digging into his fingers, Christopher lifted the car about six inches, just enough for Evan to pull his trapped father to safety.
Christopher quickly put the front tire back on the car. Then he, Pamela and his girlfriend carefully put Michael into the same car that nearly sealed Michael's fate, and drove him to Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington. Christopher called the hospital on the way, and he said six staff members were waiting for them when they arrived. They admitted the father.
Both Christopher, Evan, and their mother, Pamela, said though Michael has been in some accidents and had some medical surgeries before, they've never seen him yell in that much pain.
"I really thought I was going to die," Michael Martin told The Eagle on Thursday morning in an interview at his family's home.
He choked up, with tears welling in his eyes, as he said, "I'm so lucky to have boys like these and I want everyone to know that. I love my kids so much."
Michael was ultimately transported and cared for overnight in the trauma unit at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield.
"Fairview and BMC were just incredible. They treated me like the pope," Michael said.
Remarkably, Michael only suffered a few fractured ribs, multiple contusions, and a bruised heart and lungs from the impact of the car's weight on his chest. He was released on Tuesday afternoon with cautions to take it easy.
"The doctors were totally amazed that nothing was broken," Pamela said.
On Wednesday, Michael, who believes the spirit of his late brother, Chipper, looks out for him, went to visit Chipper's grave. The sons went with him. There, Christopher said he attempted to lift the car again. Though he is 6-foot 2-inches tall and weighs a fit 222 pounds, he couldn't.
"It's a miracle," said Evan.
"We weren't even supposed to be here that day," said Christopher. Both sons happened to be home on Monday, since there was little work for them at their respective jobs that day.
Though Michael has returned home to Hillsdale, doctors told him he faces about two months of physical recovery. For Michael, he said it's the emotional trauma from the incident that will take him longer to deal with.
"It's so scary. I get emotional just talking about it. Every time I close my eyes, I see -- I feel -- that car on my chest and I can't breathe," he said.
Then, there's the financial road to recovery.
Michael, who was recovering from another injury, said he was just getting back into construction work when the accident happened. His wife is already on disability because of her challenges with multiple sclerosis.
"We're stepping it up for them," said Evan, who works at the Egremont Country Club. He said he's already talked to his supervisors and has secured extra hours to help pay his family's bills.
Christopher, who does carpentry, says he plans to take out an ad to find extra work.
"When we got my dad out from beneath the car, he tried to stand up and fell right back down. You just feel guilt. We're the young ones. It should have been us going through this," Evan said.
Michael, who keeps a number of art works of Jesus Christ and other religious icons in and around his home, said he believes all will be well so long as he keeps his faith and family by his side.
"It's a rarity these days, but my kids are my best friends and my heroes," he said.
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