September 14, 2017 10:10 PM
Thousands of people - including family, friends and officers from around the nation - are saying goodbye to a Wayzata police officer killed last week.
Officer Bill Mathews was killed Friday after an SUV struck him as he cleared debris from Highway 12.
Mathews’ family and police have said the support has been absolutely overwhelming. More than 2,400 people, including at least 1,900 members of law enforcement from across the state and nation, attended the service and procession Thursday morning, according to the state Department of Public Safety.
Mathews leaves behind a wife and a son.
The farewell began Wednesday with a busy visitation including family, friends and grateful members of the public.
Mathews' family said he lived to serve, never complaining about it. He had worked for police departments in Winona, Rochester and Zumbrota before spending nine years on Wayzata's force.
The officers of Wayzata guarded Mathews' casket overnight, while the officers of neighboring departments cover their shifts through Sunday.
Jeff Beahen, who helps organize visitations and services on behalf of the state's law enforcement, said the support over the past week is unlike anything he's ever seen.
"The outpouring of support from law enforcement agencies within Hennepin County and surrounding is unprecedented,” Beahen said. “We've never had this level of support or this amount of support from anyone. It's just absolutely amazing."
The funeral service began at 11 a.m. Thursday. Mathew's 7-year-old son, Wyatt, collected patches from all the departments represented in a basket out front.
During the service, Mathews' sister-in-law, Casie Budolfson, read a statement written by his widow, Shawn Mathews. She read, in part, "Wyatt and my hearts are broken. I have never believed in love at first sight until I met you. You were so compassionate, patient and kind. I knew from our first date that I needed you in my life forever. I never would have guessed forever would end so soon. How will I press on without you?"
She also thanked the law enforcement community for helping them get through this past week, whether it was by playing soccer with Wyatt or standing watch over her husband's casket.
Mathews' partner also spoke of his loyalty, saying, “It was about becoming more than coworkers but friends. That was Bill to me - a dedicated partner but a more dedicated friend.”
Mathews' brother-in-law, Craig Budolfson, closed the service with a promise to Wyatt, saying, "Bill was sworn in to serve and protect the community.But he also protected and served both Shawn and Wyatt with every ounce he had. Wyatt, over the coming years we promise to be there for you. Like your dad, we will be your protector, your guide, and your rudder in life. It will take a community, and we can never replace your dad, but we will do our best to make sure we try. Because I know your dad would have done the same for me."
Updated: September 14, 2017 10:10 PM
Created: September 14, 2017 05:38 AM
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