West Ada

Driver who hit and killed Firebird starter held without bond

Joel Eggers, 64, worked for Firebird Raceway for 28 years.
Joel Eggers, 64, worked for Firebird Raceway for 28 years.

A 64-year-old Boise man killed after he was struck by a vehicle while walking along South Development Avenue was a Firebird Raceway employee, said Scott New, Firebird’s general manager.

Joel Eggers, 64, was chief starter for Firebird and worked at the raceway for 28 years, New said.

“It’s a devastating blow and we are all heartbroken,” he said. “We're all having a very difficult time with it.”

The driver accused of hitting Eggers, Tyler C. Martinez, 24, of Boise, remains in the Ada County Jail without bond. Although the investigation into Eggers' death continues and no new charges have been filed yet, the fatal crash sparked a probation violation charge against Martinez, who was on probation for a 2014 felony burglary case. His first court appearance in the probation violation case was Monday afternoon, and a district court arraignment is scheduled for April 20. The judge ordered him held without bond.

Boise police reported that Martinez was driving north on Development Avenue near West Robinson Road about 2:45 p.m. Friday when he crossed the center lane and moved into the southbound lane, hitting Eggers. The vehicle then crashed into a fence, police said. Martinez was taken into custody on a probation agent’s warrant issued at the scene.

New said Eggers was the type of employee to show up to work two hours early. He was well-respected and started races that ranged in speed from 80 mph to more than 300 mph. He started for racers ages 5 to 85. And in addition to starting races at Firebird, Eggers was asked to start races as national events like the National Hot Rod Association event in Seattle, New said.

Moreover he was a family man to his wife Rose, two children and his grandchildren.

“Joel was an incredibly wonderful dad and grandfather,” New said. “His family came first and they were first and foremost on his list.”

Saturday, Firebird hosted their “Spring Warm Up & Swap Meet,” but it was a somber event for employees.

“We flew the flags at half-mast and had a moment of silence by everybody in attendance yesterday prior to the playing of our national anthem,” New said.

The Firebird crew is in the process of planning a memorial for Eggers, but New said they are still reeling after the news.

“Our staff is just devastated. We were all so tight knit and close with Joel,” he said.

Boise police described the circumstances of the crash in a release late Friday.

Tyler C. Martinez, 24, of Boise, was reportedly driving north on Development Avenue when he crossed the center lane and moved into the southbound lane, hitting Eggers. Witnesses told police the driver continued driving north after the accident. But Martinez stopped when he reportedly crashed the vehicle into a fence, according to BPD.

Martinez was taken into custody on a probation agent’s warrant issued at the scene. He is accused of violating his probation for a 2015 felony burglary conviction. That case involved a guilty plea that dropped another count of burglary and two counts of petit theft, according to online court records. Court records indicate he could serve up to five years in prison if deemed to have violated his probation.

The crash is still under investigation.

Erin Fenner: 208-377-6207, @erinfenner

Nate Poppino and Kristin Rodine contributed.

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