Port Arthur councilman under scrutiny for actions at accident scene involving his daughter
PORT ARTHUR —
Statement from Thomas Kinlaw III:
A Port Arthur city councilman is under scrutiny for his actions at an accident scene over the weekend.
Councilman Thomas Kinlaw III had angry words toward police officers and firefighters who responded to a crash involving his daughter and it was all caught on video.
KFDM/Fox 4's Angel San Juan reports that between sources close to Kinlaw including another city councilman, and two sources within city hall, KFDM has been able to piece together much of what happened.
And, there's also a video. The video of the accident scene comes from a camera built into a firefighter's helmet -- one of the first responders at the intersection of Woodworth Boulevard and 29th in the early morning hours of Saturday, Jan. 6.
The daughter of Councilman Thomas Kinlaw III was hurt.
Friends of Kinlaw say another driver had been racing and t-boned her car.
According to a number of sources, the councilman pulled up and parked in the accident scene.
He approached the ambulance his daughter was placed in, and first responders ask him to move his truck.
The exchange is captured on video.
Councilman Kinlaw instead becomes angry with the officers and lets them know he's going to report them to the chief.
He repeats his threat to firefighters.
The video was released online. We've requested additional video and reports about the encounter.
A city spokesperson said the city will provide those materials, but will not offer a comment.
So we reached out to Councilman Kinlaw's constituents.
One woman supported the councilman's actions and reaction.
"Mr. Kinlaw done the right thing, because if it were my child, I would have done the same exact thing, I would stopped right where he stopped at to get out and see what was going on with my child, then I'd move my car, give him a chance to let him see because he's a father, he panicked, my child is sitting in the car, if it had been her, I would have done the same thing, said Port Arthur resident Angela Taylor.
But even some citizens sympathetic to what the councilman was going through say he could have handled it differently, especially since he's an elected official.
"I think as a father myself you always have to take up for your children, it's kind of natural, more than anything," said Port Arthur resident Sam Trevino. "However, when you're in that position, you really have to hold yourself to a higher level, especially when you're open to the scrutiny of the public."
Those close to Kinlaw told us the story should be about the two drivers racing.
Drivers they say caused the crash that injured the councilman's daughter, but others close to the first responders believe Kinlaw owes officers and firefighters an apology.
Councilman Kinlaw told us he was not going to comment, but his fellow councilman Willie Bae Lewis told us Kinlaw was just acting as a concerned father at the time.
Councilman Lewis says Port Arthur Police Chief Patrick Melvin told him he was looking into the matter and advised officers to be more sensitive to parents.
Lewis also told us first responders need to know who the elected officials are in their town.
Kinlaw later released a statement (see below) to KFDM News:
Statement from Thomas Kinlaw III:
"As a parent, as a father, I was put in a situation that was uncanny to me, out of my character, that will probably not happen again. I received a phone call that my daughter had been in a major accident, as a result of two guys high-speed racing. My daughter avoided one car, and the other car t-boned her, and caused her car to spin four or five times and injured her.
I get in my truck and while going to my daughter’s accident scene, nobody’s answering her phone so I’m thinking the worst
And when no one answers the phone, I really wanted to get to my daughter, when I arrived at the scene see lots of emergency lights, and the condition of my daughter’s car. It had been T-boned, all the airbags were deployed and it was smoking.
If you ask me if I’d do things differently I would say yes.
I did speak with both the fire chief and police chief and expressed my apologies to both of the departments about this situation.
My daughter at this time is doing well. She has some bruising, head injuries, but she is doing well.
Again when I arrived at the scene my top concern was not where my truck was parked, but my priority was my daughter’s well-being."