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South Florida mom breathes sigh of relief after son survives Cuban crash

'I just want to hold my little boy,' Miriam Martinez says

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – What was supposed to be an educational trip to Cuba for friends from South Florida turned into a nightmare after a vintage car ran off the famed Malecon and into a crowd of people Sunday.

"It's always really scary when your kid's away from you," said Miriam Martinez, the mother of one of the victims, 19-year-old Eli Martinez.

Miriam Martinez said a family friend in Cuba called with the awful news. Eli Martinez and his friend Matthew Moore were seriously injured. 

"He actually saw the car coming. He started screaming, 'Get out of the way,' and started pushing people before he leapt over the wall. But before he could clear the wall, his leg was pinned between the wall and the car," Miriam Martinez said.

Left: Matthew Moore (center) and Eli Martinez (right) with their Cuban translator. Right: Matthew Moore.

Some of the videos recorded of the crash are too graphic to post online.

Doctors said more than 20 were hurt and several died, including a Cuban journalist.

Now both young men have leg fractures, but they arrived in Fort Lauderdale late Monday on a Trinity Air Ambulance to a pair of thankful families. They were headed to a hospital in Boca Raton.

"He's gotten excellent care, and we're so grateful for everything," Miriam Martinez said. "We're hoping for a speedy recovery, and I just want to hold my little boy."

About the Author:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.