Hero Down: Puerto Rico Police Sgt. Miguel 'Tato' Martinez Ortiz Dies Of COVID-19
San Juan, PR – Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) Sergeant Miguel “Tato” Martinez Ortiz died in the line of duty on April 24 after contracting COVID-19.
The 56-year-old officer had been hospitalized at the Auxilio Mutuo hospital since April 5, his daughter, Maricely Martinez Prado, told El Nuevo Dia.
Maricely, who works at a hospital in New York, said she was speaking with her father on a video call that day when she became concerned about his grayish appearance.
She immediately contacted her brother, Miguel, who is also a doctor, El Nuevo Dia reported.
When Miguel responded to check on their father, “he was already fibrillating,” Maricely explained.
Sgt. Martinez Ortiz was intubated shortly after he arrived at the hospital’s intensive care unit.
He initially tested negative for the novel coronavirus at the hospital, but a second test came up positive, Maricely told El Nuevo Dia.
As he fought for his life during the weeks that followed, Sgt. Martinez Ortiz was treated with plasma transfusions from a recovered COVID-19 patient on three separate occasions.
"Daddy was a warrior. Just as it was in his life, he was on his deathbed, a warrior,” said Maricely.
Sgt. Martinez Ortiz, a 28-year veteran-of-the-force, was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant during a ceremony at the Erhet Funeral Home in Rio Piedras on April 28, El Nuevo Dia reported.
"It is a sad moment. It is the most precious sacrifice that a human being can have, which is life,” Police Commissioner Henry Escalera said during a press conference after the ceremony. “Sergeant Miguel Martínez Ortiz honored the people of Puerto Rico by serving."
Sgt. Martinez Ortiz began serving the PRPD as an undercover narcotics agent in 1993, and was a member of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Task Force at the time of his death, El Nuevo Dia reported.
“Papi always lived worried about the things that happened on the street,” Maricely told the news outlet. “Those concerns brought them to the family and guided us how we should be. Papi protected the country and his family.”
Puerto Rico lost a hero, she told El Nuevo Dia.
Sgt. Martinez Ortiz is survived by his wife, Gina Claudio, as well as his three children, Primera Hora reported.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Puerto Rico Police Department Sergeant Miguel “Tato” Martinez Ortiz, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.