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Man describes driving David Ortiz to the hospital: ‘Don’t die on me’

Eliezer Salvador, friend of David Ortiz, arrived at the Dominican Republic clinic where his friend was being treated Monday.
Eliezer Salvador, friend of David Ortiz, arrived at the Dominican Republic clinic where his friend was being treated Monday.(AFP/Getty Images)

David Ortiz had been shot, and as Eliezer Salvador raced the Red Sox legend to the hospital, he urged him to hang on.

“I told him, ‘You don’t die on me,’” he recalled Monday.

Salvador, an acquaintance of Ortiz’s, was at Dial Bar and Lounge Sunday night when gunfire sent people running in all directions. Salvador said he heard a single gunshot – “Pow!” – and then saw smoke.

Ortiz tried to run, but fell to the ground.

“He tried to run, just like everyone else, but with the impact from behind, he fell,” Salvador said in a phone interview, conducted in Spanish.

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Salvador, who was nearby, ran to Ortiz’s side. Amid the chaos, Salvador was able to help Ortiz to his feet and lead him to his car.

“Let’s go,” he told him. He got Ortiz into the backseat, but his car was trapped between two others, so he hit both of them to get out.

“I hit the front, I hit the back, to open up space,” he said.

Salvador, who works as the head of a Dominican sports betting firm, then sped to a hospital, hitting speeds of 120 miles per hour during the six- to seven-minute ride. Ortiz asked to go to the Centro de Medicina Avanzada Dr. Abel González, Salvador said.

“I told him, ‘Let’s go to a closer hospital that’s very good,’ but he said no,” Salvador said.

The hospital where David Ortiz was being treated in the Dominican Republic on Monday.
The hospital where David Ortiz was being treated in the Dominican Republic on Monday.(Roberto Guzmán/AP)

Ortiz worried he had been shot twice, but Salvador reassured him he was going to make it.

“I opened his shirt and said, ‘Look, it was just once, it came out, it was a clean shot,’” he said. “’You’re going to be fine, you’re not going to die.’”

Ortiz was conscious and talking during the ride, but had started to weaken by the time they arrived at the hospital.

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Ortiz never cried out in pain, Salvador said.

“He never talked about death,” he said. “I told him not to worry about it, that it wasn’t going to kill him.”

Ortiz said he had no idea why he was shot, Salvador said.

When they got to the hospital, Salvador helped undress him and made sure to take special care of Ortiz’s diamond-encrusted jewelry, as well as his blood-soaked clothing.

There were no doctors present when they arrived at the hospital, only nurses, he said.

“They were waiting for the doctor,” Salvador said.

In a video later posted on Instagram, Salvador is seen driving around with the jewelry in his car, stating that “[Ortiz] deserves more than this.”

Eliezer Salvador said he returned David Ortiz’s personal belongings to Ortiz’s father on Monday.
Eliezer Salvador said he returned David Ortiz’s personal belongings to Ortiz’s father on Monday.(AFP/Getty Images)

He returned Ortiz’s personal belongings to Ortiz’s father on Monday, he said.

Salvador and Ortiz were acquaintances, he said. Ortiz was an idol of his.

“I’ve followed him the way I follow Pedro Martinez, Sammy Sosa,” Salvador said.

The shooting made him emotional, he said. He would have helped anyone in that situation, but this was one of his heroes.

“I cried,” he said.

There were at least two uniformed and armed policemen near the bar at the time of the shooting, Salvador said, but neither of them reacted to the crime.

“They were just on the radio, communicating with someone,” he said.

Regulars, including celebrities, frequent the bar every Sunday, Salvador said. Some of the regulars have their own tables.

Salvador said he got there around 6 p.m., and Ortiz arrived around an hour later.

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Salvador did not think the shooting was a robbery. Earlier on Monday, the Dominican Republic’s Attorney Jean Alain Rodriguez indicated that all signs point to the shooting not being related to a robbery.

“This wasn’t a robbery,” Salvador said. “This was someone who went there to kill.”


Danny McDonald of Globe staff contributed to this report.