COLUMBIA, S.C. - In the tight-knit community of the USC School of Law, Alan Martinez is a superstar.
Theres no way you could not want to get to know him, said Margaret Strom, a classmate. Hes always helping people in any way he could.
Martinez, in his second year, is one of the people who knew everybody and everybody knew, Strom said.
So when she and other students found out via text message that Martinez had been in a grisly wreck while on his way to work as a skydiving instructor at Skydive Carolina in Chester, they banded together to support him.
Weve been doing everything we can to help, she said.
Martinez, 31, has been in a medically induced coma at Palmetto Health Richlands intensive care unit since his car was hit head-on at about 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning by a driver headed south in a northbound lane of Interstate 77 outside Blythewood.
The other driver, Santos Gomez, 46, of Hickory, N.C., was charged with felony DUI and having an open container of alcohol and is also at the hospital, Highway Patrol spokesman Brent Kelly said.
Andrew Johnson and Martinez younger brother, Mike, both fellow law students, were tailgating outside Williams-Brice Stadium when they heard about the crash. Mike Martinez left for the hospital and Johnson and his friends waited for updates.
Johnson said they didnt know the extent of Martinez injuries, but it wasnt long before he and other students were at the hospital with the Martinez family.
Mike Martinez set up a Facebook page the same day, posting updates about his brother. Within four days, nearly 900 people subscribed to stay up to date on the Naples, Fla., natives well-being.
Dozens of his friends have signed up to sit with the family nearly every waking hour through Saturday, and in law school classrooms, professors paused for moments of silence and passed around get-well cards for the student, Strom said.
James Burkhard, one of Martinez professors, said he has come to expect that kind of support from the law schools students. Each class is split into a couple of groups that work together very closely and take all the same classes their first year.
When another student is hurt or experiencing difficulties, other students always have come to that persons aid. He said he would have been surprised if he didnt see the kind of support other students were giving Martinez, whom he called hard-working and outgoing.
Johnson and Strom and Alan Martinez were all in the same group of students their first year of law school, and they became fast friends.
Were trying to help out in any way we can, he said.
But the law school isnt the only place Martinez has friends hoping for a speedy recovery.
A graduate of the Air Force Academy who also served in the Air Force, Martinez loves the open air, Strom said. Hes vice president of USCs Flying Gamecocks club and has leaped out of a plane more than 1,600 times, according to the clubs website. .
Martinez is also an animal lover. This year, he and a classmate set up the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund and was working to get the organization off the ground.
He loves anything with a heartbeat, Johnson said.