Former Hialeah mayor critically hurt in I-95 crash

 <span class="cutline_leadin">HOSPITALIZED:</span> Former  Mayor Julio Martinez.
HOSPITALIZED: Former Mayor Julio Martinez.
Miami Herald File


Former Hialeah Mayor Julio Martinez remains hospitalized in critical condition after a car smashed into him as he helped a friend change a tire on the side of Interstate 95.

The accident took place Tuesday when a driver lost control of his car and crashed into two cars, including Martinez’s red Mercedes.

At the time of the incident, Martinez, 71, was standing between the Mercedes and a white Dodge Ram, which belonged to his friend, George Morffiz.

Martinez's body was thrown several feet across the pavement, said his wife Xiomara Martinez. He was admitted to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. He had emergency surgery on Tuesday and more surgery was planned.

“I just want to ask the community to pray for Julio's recovery,” his wife said.

Morffiz, 53, also was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital. He was later released.

According to police, Joseph Domenic Leo, 54, of West Palm Beach, was headed south on I-95 in a black 2011 Honda Accord when he lost control of the car around 95th Street.

The accident occurred shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday, according to Joe Sanchez, spokesperson for the Highway Patrol.

Martinez is known as a leading political voice in Hialeah — governing the city between April 1990 and November 1993.

Last November Martinez ran against Mayor Carlos Hernandez and was defeated by a landslide.

Martinez later assumed a position as head of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Hialeah, an organization of which Morffiz also is a member.

Political figures in Hialeah have sent well wishes for Martinez's speedy recovery, including Roberto Casas, former state senator from Hialeah, who described Martinez as someone who dedicated his life to public service.

“What happened is a shame,” Casas said. “I feel sorry for him and his family. I only ask God to help him recover.”

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