The man who drove former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz to the hospital after he was shot in the Dominican Republic described holding his hand in the car as they sped away from the scene in his SUV.
Ortiz was at a bar in Santo Domingo on Sunday night when a gunman shot him in the back at close range. The bullet went through his stomach, leaving him in serious condition, local authorities said.
Eliezel Salvador was sitting nearby when the gunfire rang out, he said, and he bundled up the former baseball player into his own vehicle as he struggled to breathe.
They quickly headed to the hospital as he used one hand to drive and the other one to comfort Ortiz.
“I was driving fast. He said, ‘I’m having trouble breathing’ and I said ‘that’s normal,'” Salvador told CNN affiliate WBZ-TV. “I said, ‘keep breathing and don’t talk too much. Give me your hand.’ I gave him my hand. I drove with one hand. We hit a few cars on the way but we got there.”
As soon as they arrived, Ortiz was rushed into surgery and Salvador was left holding his blood-stained clothes, gold watch, and jewelry, he said. He later handed them to Ortiz’s father.
“He was very grateful, I’m more grateful for David,” Salvador told the affiliate.” I hope he doesn’t abandon us. This is his home, we all love him very much.”
Ortiz undergoes a second surgery
Ortiz was hospitalized in his native Dominican Republic for a day before the Red Sox sent a plane Monday to carry him to Boston.
In Boston, he was admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he had a second surgery. His wife, Tiffany Ortiz, and their children watched him walk a few steps with help, family spokesman Leo Lopez said.
Ortiz is stable and resting comfortably, and will be in intensive care for the next several days, his wife said in a statement released by the Major League Baseball club.
Before he came to Boston, he had an initial surgery in the Dominican Republic, and suffered bleeding in his liver. He also had portions of his intestines and gallbladder removed, according to Lopez.
A second suspect is arrested
In addition to Ortiz, his friend, television host Jhoel Lopez, was also shot at the nightclub.
A man captured by bystanders after the shooting appeared in court late Tuesday on a charge of being an accomplice to the attempted murder of the former baseball player.
Eddy Vladimir Féliz Garcia was arrested Sunday night in connection with the shooting. Prosecutors asked that be held in custody for a year of pre-trial detention. But his defense attorney argued against it, instead requesting the judge postpone the decision so they could gather relevant evidence. The judge said he would rule on the prosecution request Wednesday.
A second suspect was arrested Tuesday evening, The Boston Globe reported, citing a person briefed on the investigation.
The reason for the shooting wasn’t immediately clear. Ortiz does not know the man being held or why he was shot, and he’s confident it was not a robbery attempt, Lopez said Monday.
Suspects arrived on a motorcycle
Féliz García and the second man arrived at the nightclub Sunday on a motorcycle before one of them eventually opened fire, police said.
They tried to drive away after the shooting, but the motorcycle fell to the pavement, police said.
A crowd attacked Féliz García and handed him over to police while the second man fled, police said. The suspect was treated at a local hospital and is now in custody.
Féliz Garcia’s attorney has said his client is a motorcycle taxi driver and may have unwittingly driven the shooter, but he did not open fire on Ortiz.
Ortiz — affectionately known as Big Papi — was raised in Santo Domingo and made his Major League Baseball debut in 1997.
The first baseman and designated hitter played 20 seasons before retiring in 2016. While Ortiz’s major league career began with the Minnesota Twins, he is best known for his 14 seasons as the Red Sox’s designated hitter.