MARY MEAUX — Delicate but important for community to continue reporting after tragedy

Published 12:34 am Thursday, June 15, 2023

There was a tragic crash last week on June 5 when an 18-wheeler struck a passenger vehicle, which led to the deaths of two people and the hospitalizations of three others.

The crash took place in Port Arthur at a busy intersection on Texas 73 and West Port Arthur Road. It wasn’t the first deadly crash at that spot and, sadly, won’t be the last.

More than a week later, the public still doesn’t know the victims’ names, ages or where they’re from.

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Sometimes stories such as this fall through the cracks as news agencies go on to the next story.

I, and all of us with Port Arthur Newsmedia, don’t want these individuals to become statistics or nameless people who died in a crash.

It doesn’t matter where they are from or how much money they had, we all lost a little bit of our community due to their tragic deaths.

Whether the victims were from this area or simply passing through, their names are important. Certainly, their humanity is.

Obviously I don’t want to put their names out in the public if their families have not been notified. Unfortunately, I know people who learned of traumatic deaths of loved ones this way. I can’t imagine their pain in such situations.

But if the names are available, it’s our responsibility to shed some light on who they were.

As of now multiple calls have been made to a justice of the peace and local police but we still do not have the names.

The same thing goes for the story of the 1-year-old baby who died in May after ingesting a white powder. The toddler’s mother’s name was released in connection with the subsequent investigation but not the child’s name. At least not yet.

On May 14 — Mother’s Day, the Port Arthur Police Department received a call regarding a 1-year-old at Exceptional Emergency Center. The child was suspected to have been exposed to what is believed to be an illegal substance. The child was found holding a small, clear bag and having a white substance around her nose, which resulted in cardiac arrest.

The toddler was then taken to The Medical Center of Southeast Texas and later transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

On May 22 police announced the child died.

The toddler’s mother, Ava Chambers, was arrested for injury to a child May 14 and had bonded out of jail then.

Port Arthur Newsmedia requested the probable cause affidavit for the arrest of Chambers and for the child’s name from the city, but was denied due to Family Code, Chapter 261 as the request relates to juvenile or minor and due to the report of alleged child abuse or neglect under the Family Code.

And just like with the two people who died in the recent crash, we also want to shed light on who this child is, so she is not just a statistic.

I approach these types of issues with compassion, just as if the deceased person was my loved one. That goes back to the Golden Rule of treating others as I would want to be treated.

But I digress.

We have also tried to get the name of the man whose car went off the roadway on Pleasure Island June 6 and went into the ship channel.

We learned the man was 39-years-old and from a town in South Texas. He was leaving work from the Cheniere terminal in Sabine Pass. An educated guess would be the man was a contract worker in town for work at the facility.

His name still has not been released.

This can be a tough job. I’ve shared my thoughts on death in columns in the past and told of lending a voice to the victim and to the victim’s family.

I still plan to do that.

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