Five men who saved the lives of an Allen family were reunited Tuesday night in front of Allen City Council.
(L-R): Mayor Ken Fulk, John Martinez, Joel Martinez, Allen Police Officer Kye Kuopus, Allen Police Officer Stephen Griffith and Princeton Police Officer Cody Trim
John and Joel Martinez, off-duty Princeton police officer Cody Trim, and Allen Police officers Kye Kuopus and Stephen Griffith were each recognized with a Shining Star Award for their quick actions on the afternoon of Oct. 2, 2021. Around 2:40 p.m., a car traveling on Greenville Avenue near Post Oak Lane veered into the median and slammed into a tree. Thick smoke poured from the hood as John Martinez and son Joel, along with Trim, stopped to see if everyone was okay.
They found the driver unresponsive. A young child and infant were trapped in the back seat. As other bystanders dialed 9-1-1, the men leapt into action, breaking the car’s windows and lifting both children to safety.
Photo of crash courtesy Paulina Figueroa
Rescuing the driver was a different story. The driver-side door had buckled in the crash, making it impossible to open. The passenger side of the car was blocked by flames. The men struggled to lift the unresponsive driver through the window, tugging and twisting with no avail.
The flames grew taller and faint sirens grew louder. For a few agonizing seconds, the men were forced to back away; the heat had grown intense and they were making no progress.
And then, a pair of feeble arms slowly reached through the window. The driver was alive.
Photo of crash courtesy Paul Vesel
The men rushed back to the car: prying, lifting, straining. Officers Kye Kuopus and Stephen Griffith arrived on scene during this critical moment, joining the effort and capturing it all on body-worn cameras. The driver was freed seconds later.
Bodycam video still captured by Allen Police Department
“Another 30 to 45 seconds and this car was fully engulfed,” said Deputy Chief Ken Myers after playing a portion of the harrowing rescue during the October 26 council meeting. “While the driver did sustain some injuries, they were not life threatening. Everyone came out of this safe.”
When the five men stepped forward to accept their awards from Mayor Ken Fulk, the room erupted in applause.
“Few people have the opportunity in their lifetimes to be a hero,” said Mayor Fulk. “You all are heroes to us here today, and we certainly want to recognize you for that.”
VIDEO: Watch the Shining Star Award Presentation
Two City of Allen employees, Paulina Figueroa and Chelsey Aprill, witnessed portions of the crash and rescue and were among the citizens who dialed 9-1-1. Their first-person accounts and photos from the crash site contributed to this story.