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A Hero's Story
Austin Martinez doesn't consider himself a hero.

He's just glad to have his friend Robert 'Boo' Corriea around.

The loss of Corriea became a very real possibility when the two Escalon High School sophomores were in a Jeep that went out of control and rolled down a rocky embankment into a water-filled canal on Martinez's property in the Collegeville area Wednesday night, May 2.

While Austin, 15, was able to free himself from the seat belt after the Jeep came to rest on its roof, submerged in water, his friend Boo, also 15, was not that lucky.

Trapped, Boo was pulled from the vehicle in the murky water by Austin, who then had to perform CPR to bring his friend back to life.

"When I first realized we were for sure going to go in, I knew I had to think fast," Austin said Monday night. "When we finally hit the water, I opened my eyes and knew I had to get my seatbelt off."

Austin said it "seemed like forever" to reach the surface of the water, disoriented from being upside down, strapped into the vehicle.

"I was calling his name but couldn't see him," he said of Boo not coming to the surface. "Then I thought he was probably still under the car so I went under and I felt him, still strapped in."

Struggling against time, as Boo was taking water into his lungs, Austin could not get the vehicle door open from the outside so he reached in to the open sided Jeep and released it, then worked quickly to raise Boo's head up out of the water while also trying to get him out of his seatbelt.

When they both reached the surface, Austin knew the situation was bad.

"I pulled Boo out and his face was just straight blue and white," he explained. "It was definitely a scary moment."

Getting his friend to the side of the farm canal, Austin said he knew Boo wasn't breathing.

"I gave him CPR for about four minutes and that's when he threw up some water," Austin explained. "Another minute and he threw up some more, then about 30 more seconds of CPR and he just opened his eyes.

"Then his whole color pigments in his face just came back."

But still in and out of consciousness, Austin said he "had to slap him awake" a few times to make sure Boo didn't slip away again.

The friends had just been sitting in the Jeep, listening to music, when they decided to get a little practice driving in on private property. But Boo, who was driving, lost control and the Jeep went down the rocky embankment. Both teens had facial lacerations - Boo's requiring seven staples and Austin's requiring four - and had bumps and bruises. Boo also had a sprained ankle and a cracked rib.

When Boo had been revived, Austin got him to the side of the creek line on the property and decided they should try to make it back to his house.

"The creek runs through the back of our property and we were about a mile away," Austin said of the long journey back.

Neither teen had their cell phone - both were in the canal - and it was about a half hour before Austin's dad, worried that they hadn't returned, came looking and found the boys. Also with the two was Austin's family dog Boccus, a Golden Retriever who was in the Jeep when it started to roll but jumped to safety.

"When I came up, he was swimming in the water, he was just right there by us the whole time," Austin said, with the dog not leaving his side.

The water was about nine feet deep where they went in, and Austin said he didn't think of anything at that moment but finding his friend when he didn't come up to the surface.

"There was not much time to think," Austin admitted of the accident. "I just knew I had to think fast or I was going to lose a friend."

Dad Rick Martinez said finding the two safe was a relief, but they both needed medical attention.

"It's just unbelievable that he had his composure to do that," Rick said of his son, proud of his life-saving efforts.

Austin's older brothers, Seth and Enrico, are both firefighters and Austin also wants to enter the field. He has done ride-alongs with his brothers, he said, and they have stressed the importance of knowing CPR to him.

For the Corriea family, that knowledge couldn't have come at a better time.

"Without Austin's heroism this would be a whole different situation," Boo's dad Rob Corriea said. "What Austin Martinez did that day is nothing short of amazing. But to hear him tell it, he didn't do anything that Boo wouldn't have done for him.

"This young man is a hero in the true sense of the word and his composure under the circumstances was incredible. If not for him, this is a horrifically different story for my son, our family and quite frankly, the town of Escalon. He saved my son's life."

The magnitude of the event hit Austin when he was being treated at a local hospital Wednesday night, following the incident. He knew Boo was close by, also being treated, and that's when he realized what could have happened.

"I couldn't do anything but really cry that night," he admitted. "I was just so thankful."

Austin was back in school on Friday, though still with his head bandaged, and Boo was able to return on Monday.

"We had a real good moment, when I saw him," Austin said.

The two have been friends for years and, thanks to Austin's quick thinking, can go on to make more high school memories.

The Corriea family is hoping to use the incident as a tool for getting more teens involved in CPR training, never knowing when you might need it to save a life.

"His dad came up to thank me," Austin added. "But I told him, Boo would do the same thing for me. If the situation had been different, Boo would definitely have my back on that."