Help Tarrant DA’s office help a family in need

The Castro-Martinez family: father Joel, mother Avigail, and sons Joel and Eliel

Just a little more than a year ago life changed irrevocably for Joel Castro-Mares, Avigail Martinez-Baez and their two sons, Joel and Eliel. Now, employees of the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office want to do something to help  this family that can no longer help themselves. And you can help, too.

A little more than a year ago, Avigail was expecting her and Joel’s third child. Their daughter, who would be named Genesis, was going to be born any minute. About 2 a.m. on Nov. 21, 2010, in need of some last-minute supplies, Joel and Avigail put their sons into the family’s Chrysler Sebring, and the family headed to the store.

But as they passed through an intersection on McCart Avenue, on Fort Worth’s south side, a drunk driver in an SUV ran a red light and slammed broadside into the family’s car. The drunk driver then fled the scene, but a Fort Worth Police officer who saw the accident was able to give his fellow officers enough information about the SUV that they were able to track down the driver while the first officer stayed at the scene of the accident with the gravely injured family of four.

When officers found the drunken driver at his home, he first tried to run out the back door. When they caught him, he sang the theme song to the TV show COPS as they handcuffed him and put in the police car.

Meanwhile, the members of the Castro-Martinez family were clinging to life – except for Genesis, the family’s as-yet unborn daughter. Her life was ended before it even had a chance to begin. She was killed in the crash.

The two young boys suffered serious injuries. Joel had fractured ribs and several lacerations. Eliel suffered a laceration to his liver. Their father Joel was so severely injured that he was unable to work for six months after the accident.

But Avigail was the surviving family member with the most serious injuries. Not only did she lose her unborn daughter, she suffered bleeding in her brain and in her lungs, and spent six months on life support — unresponsive and unaware of anything going on around her. Now, Avigail remains confined to a wheelchair, and she will be for the rest of her life, unable to care for herself or her family.

So this year, the employees of the Tarrant County DA’s office are adopting the Castro-Martinez family in an effort to give them a special Christmas. A statement from the DA’s office explained: “We want to help make their life a little easier by taking care of some of their important necessities” like a new wheelchair for Avigail, making their house wheelchair accessible, installing a shower chair and railings for Avigail and helping out with groceries.

“We also want to give the Castro-Martinez family a special Christmas,” the statement continued. “Our plan includes putting up a Christmas tree and lights and buying gifts for the two boys.”

And here’s where the rest of us come in. The DA’s Office is looking for donations — donations of in-kind items, like a new wheelchair, shower chair and shower railings for Avigail; cash donations that can be used to purchase necessities for the family, and donations of time and effort from people willing to help repairs and upgrades to the family’s home. Here’s the list of needed items:

In addition to a wheelchair, shower chair and shower railings, Avigail needs adult diapers, size medium, and sweat pants and sweat shirts, size small. Joel the father needs pants in a size 34 waist, and XL shirts. The children, Joel and Eliel, need pants in children’s sizes 5 and 6, shoes in children’s sizes 10 and 12 and jackets in children’s sizes 5 and 7. The DA’s Office also wants to be able to donate toys for the two boys for Christmas. Joel, now 5, asked Santa for a Nintendo Wii or an Xbox game system. Eliel, who is 4, asked Santa for a bike. They both said they like playing with cars and trucks.

I know that we have plenty of people here in our own LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities that need our help this holiday season. I am not saying we should ignore them. But I just think we should remember that we don’t have to restrict ourselves to just helping our own. When you get right down to it, we’re all in this together, after all.

But in the end, I guess, it doesn’t matter WHO you help. What matters is THAT you helped. And if you want to help the Tarrant County DA’s Office in helping the Castro-Martinez family, you can do that by dropping off in-kind donations in the conference room of the DA’s office’s third floor misdemeanor section, 401 W. Belknap, or by contacting Ashlea Deener by email at abdeener@tarrantcounty.com or Bryan Hoeller by email at bphoeller@tarrantcounty.com to make a cash donation or to volunteer to help with repairs.

—  admin

Driver’s Seat: Mark Trimble, Flutist

Name: Mark Trimble, 44.

Occupation: Musician (flute) and music educator.

How might we know you: My partner Ami Sadeh and I helped create the BearDance events.

Type of car: Blue 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe.

Best car memory? Driving my Nissan 350Z the first time with my partner around town with the top down!

Funniest road trip story: I don’t know if it’s funny or sad, but I had an audition in Tennessee and a drunk driver sliced off a big chunk of metal off the side of the trunk. It was my dad’s Oldsmobile Delta 88. I had to tie that chunk of metal back on the car as it flapped all the way back to Cincinnati where I lived.

Hmmm… we vote sad. OK, buy or lease? Lately I prefer leasing. I get the itch for something new or different about every three to four years. It doesn’t hurt that you can get a bit more car for less money per month!

You play the flute, but ever in the car? I think I’ve played it in my partner’s car while he’s been driving. It’s not at all practical for the driver and it doesn’t work well in the passenger seat either. There are better places to practice. Now I will practice finger patterns for music on the steering wheel from time to time though, and that’s a great way to practice without the instrument.

What do you jam out to? NPR or BPM on satellite radio. Sometimes it’s Beethoven or Lady Gaga.

Don’t you musclebear types drive Jeeps or big trucks usually? Am I really that now? Ha! Maybe I do need to get the requisite truck!  I’m not about all my image with my car, it’s more about the driving experience for me, and I like fun-to-drive cars usually as long as they are roomy enough for me.

Since it’s hot as hell out, how’s your A/C? It is fantastic! I’m lucky to have a garage to park in at home so that it’s not all heated up when I leave the house in the summer, but even when it’s been out in the sun, it cools down very quickly.

Sounds great. So, one last thing: flootist or flautist? Well, it can be both actually.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Blood & sand

What’s on for July 4? Wolves, vampires & sorcerers, oh my!

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

TEEN WOLF | Purse-lipped Bella (Kristen Stewart) strings along ab-fab Jacob (Taylor Lautner) in ‘Eclipse.’
2.5 out of 5 Stars

TWILIGHT SAGA; ECLIPSE
Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Launter, Dakota Fanning.
Rated PG-13. 125 mins.
Now playing wide release.

To praise Eclipse as the best film thus far in the Twilight saga is like saying the drunk driver who rear-ended your new car had only been sipping Johnnie Walker Blue: Its pedigree doesn’t, ultimately, make the pain more bearable.
Little has changed since the last one, New Moon, pitted icy vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) in a chaste sexual competition with passionate werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) for the affections of pouty, bitchy Bella (Kristen Stewart). There are still long stretches with far too little action (“Get to the fight,” my date complained after one of the many delayed starts) — unless you consider emoting and seething “action.”

The (new) director David Slade at least begins the movie with a stylized if tame horror sequence, which postpones the gooey, banal romantic entanglements. Slade has advanced in bounds since first director Catherine Hardwicke’s lame-o special effects made me laugh inappropriately, but you still need to have seen both prior films — and preferably have read the books — to follow what the hell is going on.

Even that might not be enough. The Vulturi cult (led by Dakota Fanning, all of whom appear to have stolen their wardrobe from Pete Wentz), the revenge of Victoria (now played by Bryce Dallas Howard, as if it mattered), the enmity between the vamps and the wolves — who can keep track of all this nonsense? (The cross-cutting between factions is choppy and confusing.)

Deeper still is this mystery: What, exactly, is Edward’s appeal as a romantic hero? He’s pale, bloodless, glassy-eyed and continually lies to Bella (“to protect you” he insists; I bet Tiger Woods said the same thing); he also sparkles like he’s been doused in body glitter at a circuit party. Jacob, by contrast, is all brio: Forceful and rugged and thankfully shirtless when he has nothing interesting to say. It’s America versus Europe — why isn’t America winning? What is this, the World Cup?
Bella seems to think she’s The Bachelorette, stringing along two guys until the last commercial break. Just give one a rose and let’s call it quits.

Pattinson’s acting amount to little more than brooding like a 19th century actor doing Hamlet. He smolders so much, I worried he might cause a forest fire. Lautner, bless his fab abs, is not the best actor, though his sincerity carries him pretty far.

Alas, none of these qualms will have any effect on its box office success, so I might as well highlight the main positive. The best scene in the film is a relative truce between Jacob and Edward, as the two sit in a tent, Bella asleep between them, and bond over their shared maleness. It also smacks the taste of cheesy sentiment out of your mouth as Jake and Eddie seem a bottle of tequila shy of ditching Bella and moving together to Brokeback Mountain. I wish I could quit them. I wish everyone would.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL | A magical avatar (Noah Ringer) learns to controls the four elements in ‘The Last Airbender.’
2 out of 5 Stars

THE LAST AIRBENDER
Noah Dev Patel, Aasif Mandvi.
Rated PG. 105 mins.
Now playing wide release.

At its essence, the kid-focused actioner The Last Airbender is a two-hour movie about playing Rock-Paper-Scissors: Water beat fire, fire beat wind, wind beats earth. Or something like that. I lost interest pretty quickly.
In a world that looks like it was cobbled together from discarded sets, costumes, cast members and plots from Narnia, The Golden Compass and Return of the King, four nomadic tribes representing the four elements (air, fire, water and earth) are engaged in a war, with the bellicose fire nation suppressing those in other tribes who can “bend” (control) their element. An avatar, Aang (Noah Ringer), missing for a century, returns to bring order from chaos. One Ringer to rule them all, I suppose.

With Aang a Dalai Lama-esque reincarnated leader and lots of repetitive conjuring, The Last Airbender is a hodgepodge of Eastern mysticism and Western myth — Harry Potter Meets Falun Gong. (“Bending” looks suspiciously like tai chi.) Even though the plotting is paint by numbers (the bad guys are all swarthy, to make it even easier), and the symbolism unsubtle (the fire tribe is composed of polluters and soulless machines), none of it comes together.

M. Night Shymalan is constitutionally the wrong director for this kind of effects-laden spectacular. (The 3D effects were added in post production, like with Clash of the Titans, and don’t add much to the drama.) Aside from children in peril, there’s little of his themes present, or his superb though tired sense of tension. This is a bold-faced effort at reinventing himself, but this vehicle? It’s a Shymalan a-ding-dong. And that’s elementary.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 02, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas