On June 4, CHP Deputy Commissioner Ramona Prieto presented Martin with the Certificate of Community Service and Commissioner Joe Farrow gave her the Commissioner’s Medal of Distinction — the agency’s top honor — for Martin’s dedication in warning the public about the dangers of impaired driving. The Medal of Distinction has been issued only three other times since 1929, when the CHP was created.
“I was truly amazed and honored to be the recipient of the Community Service Award and the Commissioner’s Medal of Distinction,” Martin said. “The award and medal I received makes me realize that CHP appreciates my efforts against drunken driving. A strong thank-you is said to CHP, and I will continue educating people of all ages to remember to stay sober when driving.”
Martin received her awards during the Employee Appreciation Day at the CHP Valley Division in Sacramento. She was the only person not employed by the CHP who was recognized during the event.
She was nominated by Lt. Jeff James, commander of the Tracy CHP office.
“Initially, I had started the process for Lori Martin to receive the Community Service Award,” James said. “When my commissioner and division chief read her story, they were compelled to issue her the Commissioner’s Medal of Distinction. I was not aware this was part of the presentation until I was up at the podium. I was pleasantly surprised she was receiving this additional honor. The entire presentation was moving, and Lori received a standing ovation from the audience.”
On April 10, 1992, at age 16, Martin was driving home when her car was hit head on by a drunken driver. First responders used the Jaws of Life to free her from her car, and she was airlifted to St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton. She had a swollen brain, several broken and dislocated bones, a collapsed lung, cracked ribs, torn tendons, multiple fractures and a lacerated liver, and her left side was paralyzed. While in the hospital, Martin fell into a coma.
After extensive rehabilitation, she dedicated her life to warning others about the dangers of drinking and driving. Martin has been a guest speaker at local high schools and works with the CHP each year on the Every 15 Minutes program, which simulates a drunken driving crash involving high school students.
“I’ve worked with Lori Martin for a long time,” said CHP Sgt. Robert Rickman, who is also a Tracy City Councilman. “Lori has a way of telling her story and capturing everyone’s attention, even the teenagers. She tells the consequences of the actions of those that make the decision to drink and drive. Lori has touched hundreds of lives, and who knows how many lives she has saved. I am very proud of her, and she is well deserving of these awards.”
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