A Poem by Caitlyn McGue in Honor of Kristina


This is from an article in the Modesto Bee sent to me by Kristina's Mother, Blanca.

USA Elite Gymnastics coach and former gymnast dies in car wreck, sister of Karly Martinez

The Modesto Bee


Modesto Bee, The (CA)
July 13, 2004






About 50 girls from age 7 to 14 gathered while a circle of family and friends held hands around them. With the setting sun as a backdrop, they counted to three and raised a shout "Kristina." The girls released their pink and purple balloons to the heavens to join their departed friend.

Then they clutched each other and hugged the family of Kristina Martinez, the 18-year-old graduate of Riverbank High School, who died Saturday after a Friday afternoon car crash.

"She was so special," said her father, Arthur Martinez Jr. of Riverbank. "She blessed so many people's lives. She always made time for everybody. She's still blessing people's lives."

The 150 people who attended the informal memorial at the U.S. Academy of Elite Gymnastics on Stratos Way would have agreed. They took turns wrapping members of the family in their arms and love. Arthur Martinez Jr. went from group to group consoling his daughter's friends and former students, sometimes enveloping four girls at a time in his bear hugs.

Jim Trost, owner-coach of U.S. Academy of Elite Gymnastics, told the crowd he was proud of them, "You all stepped up, without even being asked, and you asked, 'What can I do?'"

The release of balloons and service were Trost's idea, hoping to help the healing process. Kristina had been a fixture at the academy for five years, as a competitor and then as a coach. The girls and parents agreed, she was "everybody's big sister."

Kristina Martinez died after a traffic accident that happened while bringing her sister Karly, 11, and friend Simone Wend, also 11, to practice. The CHP said a motorist using the right shoulder to pass traffic on Highway 108 near Skittone Road lost control of his car and headed back across the highway into oncoming traffic. He crashed head-on into Kristina's new Honda.

Blanca Martinez, Kristina's mother, said her daughter had seen the danger and pulled off the roadway "into a cornfield. She saw him but he still gravitated to her ... he still got her."

Simone said she closed her eyes just before the crash. After the impact she called out to Kristina and Karly. Simone opened her eyes again when her friends didn't answer.

"Something told me to get out of the car and get Karly," she said.

Simone remembers going around the car and beating on the window of the passenger side until she had aroused Karly. She then helped her friend get out of the seat belt and car, and then she tried tried to calm her because Kristina wasn't responding.

Wend then tried to use a cell phone to call her mother and father, but she didn't get an answer. She finally got through to an aunt who notified Wend's parents, who also called coach Trost.

Then Simone called 911, as did several other people who stopped.

Trost arrived at the hospital at almost the same time as Simone's mother, Carmella Wend.

"I asked the hospital people, 'Where's the third girl?" recalled Trost. 'There were three, not two.'"

Trost was told Kristina had been air evacuated to Doctors Medical Center.

A while later, a police officer came to see Simone at the hospital. He carried an apology from the driver who crashed into them. The apology didn't wash.

"It doesn't matter how bad he feels," said the 11-year-old. "He killed my friend."

The driver of the other car, Ralph Agostini Jr., 22, of Riverbank, was treated at a hospital following the crash and then arrested. He is scheduled to be arraigned today on a charge of felony vehicular manslaughter.


Kristina never regained consciousness, but she stayed alive long enough for her family and friends to gather and say goodbye. Even her boyfriend, Andrew Villalobos, who was attending a sports camp in Southern California, was able to make it back to Modesto in time to say farewell.

Trost said he will always remember Kristina's kindness and her smile and her goodness. "She was such a good girl. I don't think she even knew how to be bad."

In closing ranks around one of their own, the parents of the academy are providing meals for the family and transportation for Karly to practice. Karly's appearance at practice was greeted with more gentle hugs and moistened eyes. Her face was colored with a 4-inch green and blue bruise. A deeper and larger bruise was visible on her arm. A burn made by the seat belt was visible on her neck.

Her mother said the show of support was touching. "I just can't believe all the support. They are such wonderful people."

She also tearfully remembered the support her daughter had always been. "She was my anchor. She was what got me going in the morning," Blanca Martinez said.

She said one of her favorite memories of her daughter was an encounter last autumn. "She came to me and said 'I have to talk to you' and 'you're not going to like it.'

"I said Kristina don't do this to me, just tell me. You can imagine what goes through a mother's head. She says 'I got into a fight.'"

Martinez said her daughter and friends related the following:


After a Riverbank-Escalon football game, one of Kristina's friends exchanged trash talk with five Escalon girls. They in turn grabbed Kristina's friend and piled on. Kristina jumped out of the car and started tossing off the assailants with one hand. (All those gymnastic workouts paid off, say her friends).

After she removed the fourth of five girls, one returned and punched Kristina in the side of the face. Kristina punched out one-two-three-four attackers while a crowd of Escalon football players and parents gathered.

When the police arrived, Kristina refused to hide the blood on her shirt or her actions. She pronounced, "I haven't done anything wrong." The police agreed and she wasn't cited.

Blanca Martinez said she was proud of her daughter for always standing up for her friends. "We just never knew how good she was at it or that she could punch like a dude."

Kristina Martinez was born March 19, 1986, in Modesto and graduated this year from Riverbank High School. In addition to gymnastics, she also competed in track and field. She was going to attend Modesto Junior College and planned on becoming an X-ray technician.

Along with her parents and sister, she is survived a brother, Arthur Martinez III.

Visitation will be held at Oakdale Memorial Chapel, 830 W. F St. from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday. The rosary will follow. The funeral will be held at St Mary's Catholic Church, Oak and Olive streets, Oakdale, on Thursday at 10 a.m.

The U.S. Academy of Elite Gymnastics Booster Club is collecting donations for the Martinez family. They can be reached at the academy, 4801 Stratos Way, Modesto, 571-9127.

Bee staff writer Roger Hoskins can be reached at 578-2311 or rhoskins@modbee.com.


Karly Martinez, 11, left, and Simone Wend, 11, survived the accident on Highway 108 that killed Kristina Martinez.


Karly Martinez, 11, center, in green, attends a memorial for her sister with Michaela Steinbach, far left, Nichole Lucas and Brittani McGue. At far right, Carolynn Lewis, 14, hugs Caitlyn McGue (back to camera).


Simone Wend, 11, shares a moment with Arthur Martinez, the father of accident victim Kristina Martinez, on Monday evening at a memorial service for Kristina.


Girls release balloons with messages written to Kristina Martinez Monday at a memorial service for her at her gymnastics academy.

Copyright 2004 The Modesto Bee
Record Number: MOD_182A53DF