Students prepare for surgery in Florida after surviving car crash in Cuba

Student says good Samaritan 'Giuseppe' helped save his life in Havana

By Neki Mohan - Anchor/Reporter, Hatzel Vela - Cuba Correspondent, Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Cuban authorities reported on Tuesday the driver who crashed into a crowd early Sunday morning at a popular waterfront area in Havana was under the influence of alcohol when the vehicle malfunctioned. 

Five people died in the crash involving a 33-year-old driver behind the wheel of a 1952 Mercury in Havana's El Vedado neighborhood. Eli Martinez, 19, and Matt Moore, 20, both tourists from South Florida, were among the more than 20 injured.

On Tuesday, they were both preparing to undergo surgery. From his hospital bed at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Martinez said he was injured when he attempted to jump over the seawall to get away from the car. His leg hit the jagged rocks.

Martinez said he is grateful for a good Samaritan who helped to save his life. He only knows his first name is Giuseppe. 

"He breaks a bottle and cuts through my pants and he closed the wound," Martinez said, adding the man also helped police officers to carry him to a cab to rush him to the hospital. 

At the hospital in Havana, Martinez said he saw Moore had also survived. He underwent surgery at the Docente Clínico Quirúrgico Calixto García Hospital in Havana. Moore said the healthcare professionals in Cuba were impressive. 

"Even though they may not have had the same tools that we are lucky enough to have here in the United States, they used [what they have] to their full extent," Moore said.  

Once Moore and Martinez were in stable condition, they boarded a Trinity Air ambulance to Fort Lauderdale. Moore is at Delray Beach Medical Center. 

"They were people next to me, people all around me who didn't get as lucky as I did," Martinez said. 

Cuban authorities identified the dead as Ulises Canales, a journalist with state-run Prensa Latina, Franklin Baket, Osmany Gonzalez and Yurislandy Martinez. They have yet to identify the fifth victim. 

Cuban officials said the driver who plowed into the crowd had his driver's license suspended in 2014 and could face up to 10 years in prison for reckless driving. 

 

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