WAYZATA, Minn. (KMSP) - A Wayzata police officer was fatally struck by a vehicle while he was removing debris off Highway 12 in Wayzata Friday afternoon, according to Hennepin County Sheriff Rick Stanek.
With a heavy heart, Wayzata Police Chief Mike Risvold identified the fallen officer as Officer William "Bill" Matthews at a press conference.
"Today for us is about family," said Chief Risvold. "It’s about Bill’s family, it’s about our Wayzata Police Department family. It’s about our community."
According to Stanek, around 12:30 p.m., Officer Mathews responded to a 911 call of debris on Highway 12. Matthews pulled over to the right side of eastbound Hwy 12 in his marked Wayzata Police vehicle. He got out to pick up the debris when a vehicle hit him. According to MnDOT, the crash happened at Highway 12 between Shoreline Drive and County Road 101.
Emergency crews attempted to revive him, but he was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
Stanek identified the suspected driver as 54-year-old Beth Freeman of Mound. She stopped her vehicle after the crash and has been cooperative with police. She has booked at Hennepin County Jail on suspicion of criminal vehicular homicide. State records show she had a revoked license.
State Patrol will be in charge of the crash reconstruction. The investigation will take several weeks, according to State Patrol Colonel Matt Langer.
REMEMBERING OFFICER MATHEWS
Risvold called Officer Matthews "one of the good ones." He said he had been with Wayzata Police Department for nine years. He was 47 years old. He is survived by his wife and seven-year-old son.
Mathews graduated from Pine Island High School and earned a Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement from Winona State University.
Before becoming an licensed officer, Mathews was a reserve officer for the Winona Police Department and intern for the Rochester Police Department. His first position as a licensed officer was with the Zumbrota Police Department. He also worked part-time with Olmstead and Goodhue counties sheriff's offices.
Law enforcement across Minnesota are expressing their condolences for the Wayzata Police Department.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo asked for a moment of silence for the Wayzata officer killed in the crash, during his swearing-in ceremony.
Minnesota Senator Danny Schoen also tweeted words of support for the police department.
"Holding the Wayzata PD, their family's and their community in my heart right now," he tweeted.