MARY MEAUX — Our first responders are heroes; newest Port Arthur story is example

Published 12:06 am Thursday, April 13, 2023

Back in December I was on hand to see Matthew Munselle take the oath of office as a new Port Arthur police officer.

Munselle, who previously worked as a corrections officer, said becoming a police officer had been a dream of his from an early age.

Little did I know then that I would be meeting him again four months later, this time as he was lauded for saving a man’s life.

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Police received a call of a vehicle leaving the roadway and entering the water at 4:24 a.m. March 25 at the body of water on Memorial Boulevard southbound at the Texas 73 eastbound cloverleaf exit. The call was from the female driver who was still inside the vehicle at the time. The woman also called her boyfriend who arrived and jumped in to save her, but by this time she was able to float to the bank. The boyfriend got to the roof of the vehicle as it sank. He did not know how to swim.

Munselle took off his boots, vest and gun belt and took the plunge, calming down the man as he swam toward him and allowed the man to assist in saving himself as Munselle pulled him along with one arm.

Then, as a police officer, he still had a shift to finish so he changed clothes and went back to work.

I know officers are not in this line of work for a pat on the back or even a thank-you for putting themselves in danger, but I’m glad he received both from the man whom he saved. I was also glad to see others in the police department sit back in the training room as Munselle spoke about the experience. I’ve been a reporter for more than 23 years, so I know a few of the veteran officers and realized some of them also have saved lives.

I know there’s a long list of officers who have gone above and beyond, and here are a few of these instances that come to mind: Lt. Chris Segler was awarded for saving the life of a 4-year-old boy at the scene of a house fire in the late 1990s. In 2001, Segler along with two other officers and a civilian went into the ship channel under the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge to save some teenagers who fell in the water while fishing. Two of the males survived, two didn’t.

In August 2001, a woman was bringing her 6- and 7-year-old children to school and had a 3-year-old with her when she hydroplaned on Texas 73, spun out of control and landed in a canal. She was able to get her seatbelt and the 7-year-old child’s seatbelt undone as the car flipped but all four died in the wreck. Several PAPD officers as well as firefighters tried to save the family.

Due to these tragic deaths and the frequency of vehicles landing in the canal, a barrier was placed for safety.

I say all of this to thank the men and women who put their lives on the line to save and protect others.

And congratulations to Officer Munselle for his life saving efforts.

Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at