by Fred Eisenhammer
WINNETKA – Do you believe in miracles? Tom Martino does. He lived through one. “He’s so frickin’ lucky. He’s lucky to be alive – and his son too,” said Loree Zeller, one of Martino’s friends.
Martino, a veteran bowler who recently smoked a personal-best 267, got into a harrowing car accident on May 28, the day before Memorial Day. Martino was driving northbound on the 170 Freeway in the North Hollywood area with his son Michael when his car was abruptly rammed by an SUV on the lane to his left. “I was driving on the freeway one moment,” related Martino, “and the next moment I’m fighting for my life.”
The impact from the SUV sent Martino’s car into a tailspin and his car was jolted two lanes over to the right where his car bounced off a protective wall along the shoulder.
Martino’s car then ricocheted the other direction and across traffic. Incredibly, his car wasn’t hit as it finally landed on the diamond lane facing oncoming traffic. “I can’t believe we made it,” Martino told his son when his car finally came to a rest. “It’s not over yet,” Michael said. “We’re facing the wrong way on the diamond lane.”
Recognizing his car’s precarious position, Martino started waving out the window to alert drivers of his vulnerable car, which sustained considerable damage. After noticing that the car was still drivable, Martino executed a quick U-turn that safely got his car back into traffic.
At this time, the SUV driver was long gone. Martino soon called the police and they reported they had located the SUV driver – a young adult, who Martino surmised may have been texting when his car banged into his.
Martino, a Chatsworth resident, went to Urgent Care and his injuries remarkably were not considered serious at first diagnosis. His son also escaped serious injury. Martino’s biggest injury was whiplash, which was causing considerable discomfort to his neck.
Still, Martino returned two days after the accident to his weekly bowling league and reunited with teammates Marti Tirabassi, Diane Weed and Shannon Renee at Winnetka Bowl.
Martino took the night off bowling and his “Tom’s Cats” teammates celebrated his accident wasn’t worse. Martino was even smiling broadly watching the action at Winnetka Bowl, knowing that he had miraculously dodged a big, big bullet. “It was a miracle,” Martino said. “The viciousness really scared me.”