Local Hero Honored At Aurora's Fourth of July Parade

Bob Roberts
July 04, 2018 - 1:50 pm

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A wrestling coach who was caught on a police dash-cam rescuing someone from a burning car in April but shuns the title “Hometown Hero” was grand marshal of Aurora’s Independence Day parade Wednesday.

Even with his wife and grandchildren sharing the horse-drawn carriage, Jose Martinez looked uncomfortable in his Grand Marshal’s sash.  He said he wasn’t thinking heroism or rewards when he pulled out an unconscious Anselmo Baca-Vazquez moments before the Warrenville man’s car exploded. 

That moment happened three weeks ago when the two men me.  Martinez says Baca-Vazquez told him h e was raised an orphan and said he’s thankful that his three-year-old son doesn’t have to grow up an orphan as well.

Baca-Vazquez faces a litany of traffic charges stemming from the April crash, but is fully recovered from his burns and Martinez says he is grateful just to be alive.

“He’s a good kid,” Martinez says.

Martinez has been awarded a key to the city of Aurora, seen a day named in his honor and now this. He’s ready to return to as much anonymity as you can get in your hometown.  He’d like to think anyone else would do what he did.