UNLIKELY HERO: Homeless man praised for saving missing motorcylist’s life in Marana
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Martin Villalobos went out for a bike ride in the Marana area Wednesday, Feb. 2, and didn’t return home.
The 32-year-old crashed his dirt bike in a hole and was suffered serious injuries.
Villalobos was trapped in that hole for four days and nights, in sub-freezing temperatures, without food or water.
Villalobos was laying there, slowly dying, until a homeless man saved his life.
“We know he went out at 4 p.m. Wednesday because of the security camera, but we were actually not aware he was going [out riding] when it happened,” said Alicia Rodriguez, who shares a daughter with Villalobos. “We only became aware that he had not returned from his bike ride Friday. As soon as I heard that he hadn’t come back, I knew it wasn’t good.”
On Friday, Villalobos’ family reported him missing and the Pima County Sheriff’s Department began a search on foot and by air.
Loved ones also organized their own search party, walking the trails they knew Villalobos loved to ride.
“It’s crazy because we were walking so close to him, so it’s just like, ‘how did we not walk by there?,’” Rodriquez said. “Also, the helicopter was so close. How did we miss him? I know that he was conscious the whole time. He even got bitten by a coyote on the third or last night. He remembers it and has the bite on his wrist. He said he started screaming and it ran away!”
Villalobos was riding near the railroad tracks at Interstate 10 and Ina Road when he crashed into a hole that was two feet deep and seven feet wide.
The smell of dirt and the constant blare of passing trains surrounded him as he fell in and out of sleep. He was hidden and unnoticed by thousands of people driving by.
“I don’t think there’s any other way to explain it,” Rodriquez said. “To survive four days without water and four really cold nights, it really is a miracle.”
Help came in the form of Coleman Durham, who described himself as homeless.
Durham was riding his bicycle from his home in the wash to a nearby gas station.
For no particular reason, the 57-year-old Durham decided to take a different route to the Circle K, one that brought him to the crash site.
“I got off on one of the trails,” Durham said. “All of a sudden, I see this ravine with a green bike down there. I said something and (Villalobos) said ‘help, help, help!’”
Durham said he’s glad to be able to help.
“Of course, I didn’t have a phone,” he said. “He asked me to please go call the police for him and please go get him an orange juice and a water.”
Villalobos offered Durham his dirt bike and everything he had with him in exchange for help. However, Durham wasn’t looking for anything other than the chance to help.
Durham rode his bicycle to the Circle K and alerted staff, who called the police. Durham then returned with water, juice and blanket for Villalobos.
“They told us that they found him and it was just really emotional,” said Villalobos’ 13-year-old daughter Cassandra.
Villalobos will now get to see his daughter grow up, even though it will be an uphill climb with his recovery.
“(Doctors) mentioned the possibility he may not be able to walk,” Rodriguez said. “But he has been so strong, so we have faith.”
Durham is living proof you don’t need a lot to give a lot.
“Oh, I’m not a hero,” he said. “I’m just Coleman.”
Family members are beyond grateful and plan to thank Durham in person.
Rodriguez said it’s so important to take missing adult cases seriously.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with Villalobos’ medical bills. To help, click HERE.
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