Marine Purple Heart recipient killed while trying to save stranded woman on highway


    A 29-year-old Marine stationed at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms was killed earlier this week while trying to rescue a woman trapped in her car.

    California Hwy. Patrol troopers say Crystal Martinez’s car had flipped onto its roof after colliding with a tractor-trailer and was stuck on the 10 Freeway in Loma Linda.

    Enrico Rojo saw someone in distress on the side of a dark road and turned to his family and said: “We have to help.”  It was about 1:30am Monday morning and Rojo was about to catch a flight with his family for the holidays.

    After seeing the wreckage, Rojo pulled over and ran across the freeway to ask the woman if she was okay. CHP officers told the LA Times that a driver of a Sonata swerved to avoid the other vehicle, but struck Rojo. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

    Rojo’s fiancée knelt and laid on the ground next to his body on the cold freeway for about 30 minutes, first responders said.  “She said she wanted to say goodbye to him,” Redlands Fire Battalion Chief Jim Topoleski said.

    “It’s really horrific and heart-wrenching…Aside from the fact that it’s Christmastime … this guy, he survived Afghanistan, survived an IED attack, he was a Purple Heart recipient. All this guy was trying to do was the right thing,” Topoleski added.

    Martinez was later arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. According to the Washington Post, troopers said she will not be charged in Rojo’s death.

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