By Russell Slaton
The News Correspondent
MALAKOFF–Risking his own life to save a fellow citizen, the commendation reads. But ask Officer Robert Siegmund of the Malakoff Police Department about the act, it was just another day on the job.
Siegmund was recognized by Police Chief Billy Mitchell and the Malakoff City Council during its regular meeting June 10 for pulling resident Robert Nokes to safety before fire engulfed Nokes’ vehicle and the Mary Queen of Heaven Catholic Church on April 25. Nokes, 38, experienced a medical episode while driving and accidentally crashed into the building.
“The chief was right there with me the whole time. It was a team effort,” said Siegmund, who has been with the department for nearly three years. The officer also noted the help of Father William Palmer of the church, who Siegmund said helped extract Nokes from the burning vehicle.
While Chief Mitchell battled flames with a fire extinguisher and with the front driver’s side door wedged shut, Siegmund entered the vehicle through the rear passenger door. At one point, Siegmund was overcome by smoke before the officer eventually tugged Nokes loose after the injured man’s seat belt was cut. Soon thereafter, “something blew up, maybe the engine or one of the tires,” according to the officer.
Nokes was present during the council meeting. He spent 22 days in a Tyler hospital, and is about to start physical therapy. Nokes uses a cane and has “a little nerve damage, but if that’s the worst that happens, I can live with that,” he said.
“I’m glad it’s over,” Nokes added. “Very few people get a second chance.”
The council also authorized the city to extend for two more years its participation in the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs HOME program, which provides grants to cities to build housing for senior and low-income citizens.
Four homes have been constructed so far, with one more expected to be completed in about two weeks, said City Administrator Ann Barker. Another two homes are early in the construction process, Barker added, and two more properties qualify for the program. The city hopes in the future to rehabilitate three or four more properties, Barker said. The council also awarded a bid to Angus Home Center of Corsicana to provide a manufactured home using grants from the program.
Also during the meeting, council members Jeanette King and Tim Trimble were sworn in along with Mayor Delois Pagitt following the trio’s re-election May 11. The council selected Trimble to continue as mayor pro tem.