When the Texas A&M Aggies pulled off an improbable comeback against Duke during Tuesday night’s Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome, Associated Press photographer Dave Martin stormed the field as quickly as possible to get pictures of the celebration. Little did he know that one of his best shots would end up being one of his last.
After snapping pictures of the A&M chaos, Martin — 59 — collapsed and died on the field from an apparent massive heart attack.
Take a long look at this amazing picture, which ended up being one of his last:
“Dave Martin was an excellent photojournalist, a consummate and dedicated professional and a wonderful person,” AP Vice President and Director of Photography Santiago Lyon said. “Wherever his work took him he made many friends and will be deeply missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.”
The AP published details of how the man known as “mullet” rose to prominence:
Martin began his photographic career at the Lakeland Ledger in Lakeland, Fla., in 1982 before joining the AP as a staff photographer in Montgomery in 1983. In 2004, Martin was named the AP’s regional photo editor for the South.
Martin was at nearly every major news event in the South over the past 30 years, taking memorable images during Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf oil spill and the tornadoes that sliced through Alabama in 2011. He also traveled around the world for the AP, covering Super Bowls, Olympics, Ryder Cups and other sporting events, as well as political conventions, and conflicts in Afghanistan, Haiti and Iraq.
Known as “Mullet” to his many friends and colleagues, Martin built strong working relationships with AP member photographers and editors around the region, particularly those in Alabama.
“He was so driven to tell stories through pictures that he’d do most anything it took to be in the right spot to get the best photo, whether it was standing on a beach during a hurricane or wading into polluted waters during an oil spill,” Jay Reeves, AP’s Birmingham correspondent and a longtime colleague of Martin’s, told the AP. “He covered wars and a revolution, sports and tornadoes, the Alabama Legislature and presidents, and he typically had the best picture no matter what the event.”
He leaves behind a wife and two children.