Roman Martin, 9, was struck and killed by a Sheboygan garbage truck on Wednesday.
It happened at the corner of 14th Street and Center. People have been stopping to pay their respects at that intersection. There are hand-written notes from classmates and friends, many of whom left stuffed animals, and toys in Roman’s honor.
“It’s hard to see a young child cry for their friend,” said Brian Kautzman, who lives closest to the intersection. “I was the second one at the scene of the accident after it happened. It was the most horrible day of my life. I don’t ever want to have to see something like that again.”
Kautzman says Roman was riding his bike down a hill, late for school around 10a.m., when he collided with the garbage truck. The driver of that truck, and coworker not he back of it, were incredibly distraught.
“The driver was crying,” Kautzman said. “Both of them were completely overwhelmed. When I saw what I saw, I was beside myself too. To see it was a child, and there was nothing we could do at that point. No one should have to live with that.”
The worker at the back of the truck told Kautzman that it happened in a matter of seconds.
“He looked at me with tears in his eyes, and said he saw it about to happen and yelled at the top of his lungs for Roman and the driver to stop,” Kautzman said. “But it’s hard to stop a big truck like that quickly. I heard him yelling to stop. It was too late.”
Sheboygan’s Director of Public Works says those city employees are getting professional help to process the trauma of what happened.
The accident is still under investigation by Wisconsin State Patrol.
Roman attended St. Paul Lutheran School. The principal and teachers there have been focused on helping students cope. Roman was well-known as kind, smart and fun-loving.
The entire community is rallying around Roman’s sister and mother, Audrey.
In a further tragic twist, two of Roman’s half-siblings from his father’s side, died in a house fire in Sheboygan in January of 2016. That tragedy is still very raw for many in the city.
If you’d like to help Roman’s family with funeral cost, a “Roman Martin Fund” has been set up at St. Paul Lutheran Church and School. Get more information here.