Montgomery-based AP photographer collapses at game, dies

Published: Jan. 1, 2014 at 5:28 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2014 at 5:28 PM CST
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(Source: Associated Press)
(Source: Associated Press)
(Source: Associated Press)
(Source: Associated Press)
(Source: Associated Press)
(Source: Associated Press)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A longtime Associated Press photographer based in Montgomery died after collapsing on the field at the Georgia Dome on Tuesday night.

Dave Martin, who was lovingly called Mullet, was 59 years old.

Martin ran onto the field immediately following Texas A&M's 52-48 win over Duke in the Chick-fil-Bowl and took photos of Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin being doused with a water bucket by his players. According to Regional Photo Editor for the AP Mike Stewart, it was Martin who first started capturing these celebration pictures.

Stewart said Martin died doing something he loved and was deeply passionate about.

Martin continued to take celebration shots before collapsing on the field. He suffered an apparent heart attack and was administered CPR on the field. He was taken to Emory Hospital Midtown where he died early Wednesday morning.

Martin had a long career with the Associated Press, covering a wide variety of stories, including major athletic events, the war in Afghanistan, hurricanes and segregation-era leaders.

Martin leaves behind his two children, Emily and Skip, and wife, Jamie.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley was among those lauding Martin. Martin's wife is also a photographer and a member of the governor's staff.

Bentley released the following statement Wednesday:

"Dave Martin was one of the best photojournalists that I have had the privilege of working with over the years. He has covered nearly every major news event in the South over his 30 year career. He traveled with me in the aftermath of the April 2011 tornado outbreak, and told the story of the storm's devastation in some of the best photos I have seen. Dave was well respected by all those who knew him and worked with him, and he leaves a great legacy of work with the Associated Press. Dianne and I are praying for Dave's wife Jamie, who is a valuable member of my staff, and their children Emily and Skip. May God bring them comfort and peace in the difficult days ahead."

Co-workers and many other journalists are mourning the loss of one of the greats. Below are remarks from staff at WSFA 12 News:

One of the last of the old school professionals of the newspaper photography era is gone. I'm honored to have worked around him. He was a super creative and competitive guy who would ask me to use our truck roof or scissor lifts at big events everywhere to mount remote still cameras just because the other guys didn't think to ask. You'd see the photo in next day's AP stories thinking how in the world did he get that shot! I'm thankful he didn't have an ENG camera in his hands because he surely would've beat up on us TV guys every day for the best video angles. He and other AP staffers camped out downtown at the 10 Commandments monument battle for weeks where he made his VW van, or what we called his "hippie wagon", the mobile AP bureau making it just as functional as our million dollar TV trucks. But behind his scruffy, gruff exterior stands his sweet, lovely wife Jamie who's as good of a still photographer as Dave ever was. Pray for her and the family through this. Would like to think he's camped out now at the pearly gates looking for the best angles on the biggest story he'll ever cover. - Jeff Harrison

A very great photographer is gone. Oftentimes, he could be misunderstood with his "I don't care about nothing or nobody attitude." However, to know Dave was to know his passion, dedication and skill as far as his craft was concerned. Alot of people called him friend including myself. Albeit sad...he died doing what he loved. - Andre Morgan

In anything in life you have people who show you how to do "something." Dave showed me the right way. Dave would help you out any way he could. He wouldn't just step in your shots, he would ask if you were ok. He didn't have to do that but he did. He would talk to you about anything. We usually had good conversation. His wife is gold. If there is ever "too nice" of a woman, she is it. I agree with Jeff, I would like to think Dave is showing everyone in heaven how he does things because I promise they will learn something. He will be missed. - Doug Gooden

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved. AP contributed to this report.