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Dave & the Crew
December 28, 2016 | News cameras filmed Martinez Smith-Payne as he lay recovering in a bed at St. Louis Children's Hospital. He was 10 years old, and had discovered a firework in a barren field in the northern part of the city. After he lit the fuse, it exploded in his left hand, blowing off all of his fingers except the thumb. When he later appeared on television, his destroyed hand was wrapped in a ball of gauze, and his eyes were covered with a mask, partially concealing his delicate face. Martinez was a small, frightened boy, but for his mother, Frances Smith-Woods, he made a show of bravery. "He was telling me it's OK," she said at the time. "I guess he didn't know the severity of it."
Three years later, on November 28th, 2015, Martinez and two of his friends — Ernest Williams, 14, and another boy, who was 11 — climbed onto their bicycles and set off under a full moon from the St. Louis neighborhood of Walnut Park East, one of the most dangerous areas of a city with the highest homicide rate in the United States. Martinez, Ernest's little cousin, was then 13. He had small ears and sharp cheekbones. He liked Hot Wheels cars, Nick Cannon and The Polar Bear Express. He weighed 89 pounds. His earlier accident had not raised his threshold for pain. When he received shots at the doctor, multiple family members had to hold him down.