Deputy tells touching story of a night he won’t soon forget

Frio County deputies Matthew Cuellar and the late Corp. Justin Longria.

By Kayleen Holder
When Patrol Deputy, Matthew Cuellar stepped into his vehicle this past Tuesday, August 23, he had only one thing on his mind– protecting the citizens of Frio County. That night, he and other deputies encountered a human smuggling operation, and he was involved in a dangerous pursuit that left his vehicle totaled and Deputy Cuellar unconscious. It was a night that he won’t soon forget, for more reasons than one.
“Yesterday was a very scary one,” he said. “It’s still eating me up inside to see how careless this subject was that we were in pursuit of. These people don’t care about vehicles, lives, property or anything for that matter, only about the money they’re making to commit this crime.”
Cuellar noted that deputies are facing multiple pursuits every day and week, but this one ended a little differently.
“I lost control of my patrol unit while in pursuit of a suspect and went into a tree,” Cuellar said. “I was unconscious.”
When he awoke, he found himself “alone on the county road with everything destroyed”–but in that moment he also realized something special had just happened.
Suddenly he recalled “seeing a unit approach from the east, the opposite direction my team went. As it approached, I realized it was my best friend Justin (Deputy Justin Longoria who died in a vehicle accident last year). Justin put his arm out and said ‘You’re going to be alright come on.’ “Once I touched him, I woke up and heard the radio going off.”
At that point, he awoke from unconsciousness, and was able to crawl out and call for help, he said.
“This moment still has me torn because I miss my brother so much, but to know when people say he’s always there, and having experienced that, I believe it,” Cuellar said, still emotional thinking about what happened.
Deputy Cuellar thanked his fellow heroes and community for the unwavering support they have shown.
“Thank you to Sheriff Mike Morse and Chief Peter Erica Salinas for being there throughout the night at the hospital,” Cuellar said. “And of course thank you to my community, the love and prayers that have been sent my way have kept me strong. I woke up this morning feeling like a train hit my body. I’m grateful I was able to leave with a few cuts and a minor concussion. It’s going to be a long week but I will get better. Love everyone.”