Sugar Land, TX News – Missouri City Family Recognized for Coming to the Aid of Injured Police Officer
Sugar Land, TX News (July 21, 2014) - At its regular meeting on Monday, June 16, the Missouri City Council recognized the Muñiz family for assisting Missouri City Officer Benjamin Pahl after he was in a motorcycle accident outside their Sienna Plantation home. Officer Pahl presented the family with an additional plaque that recognized them for their heroic efforts to help the injured officer and other public safety and emergency personnel during and after the accident.
On February 19, Officer Pahl left the Missouri City Public Safety Headquarters after a meeting to head home on his motorcycle. After recently being selected to the City’s new motorcycle traffic unit, Officer Pahl had begun riding his motorcycle as often as possible, but that day he accidentally hit a curb while turning into his neighborhood. He was thrown off of the vehicle and hit a street sign.
“After getting past the initial shock of the accident, I was able to reach my cell phone and call 911. Right after I got a hold of the dispatcher, Juan and Synthia Muñiz, neighbors whom I have never met, came to my aid. Mr. Muñiz took my cell phone and spoke to the dispatcher, giving her the information they needed, all the while checking my injuries and summoning extra help,” Officer Pahl said. “Mr. Muñiz held my twisted leg stable, which I had been trying to do myself. Mrs. Muñiz spoke to me and tried to keep me busy. She contacted my wife and informed her of the accident and which hospital I would be going to.”
The impact had caused an anterior dislocation of Officer Pahl’s left knee and a large laceration to the bone on his lower right leg. The high-impact trauma to his knee was both limb and life threatening. Despite needing emergency care quickly in order to save his left leg, Officer Pahl said that until the Muñiz family stepped in, he felt ignored by passing vehicles.
“I remember thinking to myself ‘why isn’t anyone here to help me?’ I’m not sure how long I was on the ground with no help, but it seemed like an eternity,” Officer Pahl said. “While lying on the ground, I heard many people drive past without stopping to help or come to my aid. Mr. and Mrs. Muñiz didn’t wait for someone else to help, they didn’t stop to take pictures or video, they just came to me. That’s all I needed at that moment.”
The couple, who live in Sienna Plantation, helped direct emergency crews upon their arrival and assisted officers in removing the crashed motorcycle from the neighborhood street, the whole time trying to stay positive in order to prevent the situation from becoming more dangerous.
“I can only imagine what was going through Ben’s mind at that moment. I knew if he saw panic on my face, though, he’d panic too,” Synthia said. “At that moment, it was all about him. I was concerned my 11-year-old daughter, who was standing nearby, was going to be upset or make him nervous, but she told him, ‘it just looks bad, you’ll be ok.’”
The family was kept informed of Officer Pahl’s condition by other Missouri City Police Officers who have stopped by their home. Throughout the ordeal, Synthia Muñiz said she has been grateful for the department’s outreach during and after the accident.
“This is a quiet neighborhood, but we look out for each other,” Synthia said. “While it was nice to be appreciated by Council and the Police Department, it is not why we helped. We would have done this for anyone.”
In the months since his accident, Officer Pahl has undergone three surgeries, one of which was to reconstruct his left knee. He has been making great progress, nearly has all range of motion back in his left leg, and is going to therapy most of the week to build up his muscles, balance, and strength.
“Early on in my recovery it was very difficult to get inside vehicles and move around for a few months. Sergeant Tracy Cox, who leads the new motorcycle unit, came to my home on his own time to help me from the hospital, help me into vehicles or just get me out of the house,” Officer Pahl said. “Chief Mike Berezin and Captain Lance Bothell have been outstanding. Their support and willingness to do what it takes to get me healthy has been a huge part of my recovery. I’ve been told by my physical therapy staff that one of the biggest challenges is people just can’t get to therapy, so having a work place that is working with me to get back to 100 percent is just awesome. I wouldn’t be doing this well without the support of the PD.”