On a Tuesday in early November, Capt. Michael Mathes was enjoying a rare day off from his job with the Texas Highway Patrol. He had just pulled into his driveway in Waller, a rural community outside Houston, when he heard a loud noise that made him turn around.
Down the road, he saw a car in a ditch with smoke rising from it. He jumped back in his own vehicle and drove toward the accident.
“By the time I walked up to it, the flames were already coming up on the windshield,” said Mathes, who is also a volunteer firefighter and training officer.
He could see that the woman inside was unconscious, and he knew he had to get her to safety. It took several tries to get the door open. Then he had to reach inside to undo the seatbelt. Finally, he threw his arms around the victim and pulled her out.
His wife Christina, who is also a volunteer firefighter, was on the scene seconds later. She helped move the driver farther away from the burning car.
“With both of us being firefighter/EMTs, we were able to provide medical intervention until an Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance from our department arrived,” Mathes explained.
He started working as a first responder as a junior firefighter (explorer) when he was just 14 and has been a career law enforcement officer for 10 years. He’s also a veteran who served multiple tours in Iraq in 2007-2008 and Afghanistan in 2011.
Mathes is an EKU Online student earning a degree in fire, arson and explosion investigation. When he graduates, his goal is to become a Texas Ranger. Ultimately, he would like to become the first Texas Ranger to investigate fire-related crimes – cases that are typically investigated by city, county, or state fire marshals.
His heroic rescue was featured on two local news broadcasts, but Michael has remained humble about it. “I think had it been anybody else, they would have done the same. At least, I’d like to think that,” he told one reporter.
Interested in a Fire Science career?
Earn your online bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university that has been an online education leader for more than 15 years.
Complete the learn more form for more information about earning your bachelor’s in Fire Science to give yourself a competitive edge in the job market.