08/06/2014 3:04PM

Del Mar employee credited with saving child from fire


DEL MAR, Calif. – A fast-thinking Del Mar employee was widely credited Wednesday with saving a 7-year-old boy from a burning travel trailer on racetrack property shortly after dawn.

David Martinez, a labor foreman, was driving past a row of trailers and recreational vehicles when he saw flames coming from a trailer. Martinez began banging on the door and alerted the boy, whom he helped to escape, according to Del Mar vice president of operations Tim Read.

The child was Aleksei Avila, the son of exercise rider and jockeys’ room valet Manny Avila, according to Leandro Mora, the boy’s uncle and an assistant trainer to Doug O’Neill.

“It was very, very close,” Mora said.

Mora said fire is believed to have been caused by an electrical malfunction. Firefighters had the fire contained within 17 minutes, according to a report on a San Diego television station’s website.

Mora said Manny Avila was driving Aleksei Avila to the Los Angeles area on Wednesday at lunchtime to be with family. The trailer was destroyed, and the adjacent trailers were damaged. The trailers and RVs are home to racetrack and stable-area employees during the racing season.

Martinez has worked at the track for “30-plus years,” according to Read.