Witnesses, community reflect on the loss of one of their own

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Video captured moments after a Wayzata officer was fatally struck on Highway 12 shows the chaos that followed, when a Good Samaritan stopped to help.

Beth Freeman is accused of hitting Officer William Mathews with her car on Friday.

She was allegedly driving on a revoked license and has a history of aggravated driving, theft, speeding and multiple drug possession convictions.

Officer Matthews was picking up debris on the roadway.

Former Vikings Cornerback Tyrone Carter was driving by when Mathews was hit.

“All of a sudden, I just see cars going out of the way and just a big bang,” he told Fox 9. “When I seen it, my whole attention changed because he was just sitting there.”

Carter jumped out of his car ran over to the scene to help. A group of good Samaritans already attempting to resuscitate Matthews, Carter turned his attention to Freeman, trying to calm her down.

“You could hear her saying, ‘I’m going to jail, I’m going to jail,’” said Carter. “Because she knew what happened.”

In the video, Freeman is distraught. She is heard saying, “he was just there, there wasn’t any flashers, no nothing.”

Minutes later, paramedics would arrive, Officer Matthews passing away not long after.

Carter reflected on the trauma of his daily commute that suddenly turned deadly.

“I travel that road every day,” he said. “Every morning I travel that road.”

Carter isn’t the only one left reflecting on everyday gestures after the untimely death of Officer Mathews.

Mike Kokesh, part-owner of True Value Hardware in Long Lake and fellow police officer dedicated his Saturday to commemorating Matthews, a beloved and regular customer.

“My partner is on Wayzata Fire Department, and I got the call...” Kokesh said. “It just goes to show you, you never know.”

Word spread fast through the hardware store, and soon the town.

“He comes in here when he’s on duty, he comes in here when he’s off duty,” Kokesh remembered. “He lives nearby and comes in with his wife and son, so we see him not just in a work environment, but outside of being a police officer, as well.”

After losing a community member and fellow police officer, Kokesh knew he had to do something.

From the hour the store opened, Kokesh began giving away blue light bulbs to any customer in the store, with an optional donation for the Matthews family.

The only rule was one bulb per house, and by 11 a.m., they had run out.

A wholesale pick-up of 500 more lightbulbs after noon soon remedied that, and they continued to give them out for the rest of the business day.

The simple gesture sent an impactful message to the family of Bill Matthews.

“This is a very tight-knit community that is going to wrap their arms around them,” said Kokesh. “For the officers driving around at night, I know first-hand when they see that, that it hits home.”