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Water Rescue Brings Civilian Hero Award
Escalon High School junior Austin Martinez sometimes still has nightmares about it.

But the good news is he wakes up, realizes it was a dream and knows that his friend is safe.

Martinez, who helped save the life of his friend Robert 'Boo' Corriea this past May when the two were trapped in a vehicle that went into a water-filled canal, is now being recognized officially as a hero.

He was nominated for the award by Escalon Community Ambulance manager Mike Pitassi, at the request of Corriea's family.

"They take applications from around the state, whether it's for their dedication and hard work or valor," Pitassi explained. "They go through a stack of applications."

The hero recognition will come from the state's Emergency Medical Services Authority at a special dinner in San Francisco.

Martinez, a sophomore at the time the indent occurred, freed Corriea from the overturned, submerged vehicle and performed CPR on him after pulling him out of the water. He will receive a civilian lifesaver award for his efforts.

"The family had contacted me, asked if there was anything I could do," Pitassi said of recognizing Martinez for his heroic act. "I thought the perfect thing was to send it to the state, send it to the state EMS authority."

The Martinez family received a letter informing them of Austin's selection for the award and it brought back a rush of emotions for the student.

"It just reminded me of everything that happened and it's just crazy it has gone that far," he said, adding that he still remembers the day vividly, the fear of losing his friend, the relief of 'Boo' making it through. "Every time I see him, I give him a hug."

Pitassi said the hero recognition is well-deserved and Martinez said he still urges people to learn CPR, as you never know when you might need it. He also is still a little in awe of the whole process.

"I was shocked, obviously," he said of being selected as a civilian hero. "It was cool that it's being recognized. I'm just happy it turned out the way it did."

The award will be presented during a luncheon ceremony following the EMS Commission meeting Dec. 5 in San Francisco at the Marines' Memorial Hotel.

Escalon High School teacher Tim Reed, who teaches the Special Day Class, said he knows Martinez to be a caring teen, in ways other than what he will receive the 'hero' award for in December.

"He is in our adaptive PE class as a peer helper," Reed explained. "He and his friend Jack Ballard, they have asked a couple of my students with Down syndrome to winter formal, they're going to get a limousine, go out to eat. It's pretty cool, these two girls are so excited, they are my first two (special needs) students to go."