ATLANTA — Dave Martin, a longtime Associated Press photographer based in Montgomery, Ala., died after collapsing on the Georgia Dome field after the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Tuesday night.
Martin, 59, ran onto the field immediately following Texas A&M’s 52-48 win over Duke and took photos of Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin being doused with a water bucket by his players. Martin continued to take celebration shots before collapsing.
Martin appeared to suffer a heart attack and was administered CPR on the field, according to a statement from the Georgia Dome. He was placed on a stretcher and taken to Emory Hospital Midtown, where he died early Wednesday morning, the statement said.
“Dave Martin was an excellent photojournalist, a consummate and dedicated professional and a wonderful person,” AP vice president and director of photography Santiago Lyon. “Wherever his work took him, he made many friends and will be deeply missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.”
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,” said Jay Reeves, AP’s Birmingham correspondent and a colleague of Martin for decades. “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.”
On their last assignment together, Reeves watched as Martin took time to get the perfect photo of sunlight streaming through a glass of beer.
“He came away with a beautiful photo because he wasn’t willing to settle for the ordinary,” he said.
AP Sports Writer Paul Newberry said he would remember Martin as a colleague who never approached work or life halfway.
“He lived life to the fullest. We should all be so lucky to get out of our time on this planet what he did in 59 short years,” Newberry said. “He is simply irreplaceable.”
Martin is survived by his wife, Jamie Martin, and their two children, Emily and Skip.