'He Knew Everyone': Wayzata Officer Hit, Killed Clearing Debris from Highway

September 08, 2017 10:54 PM

A Wayzata police officer was hit and killed Friday by a passing driver as he worked to clear debris from a stretch of Highway 12.

Police Chief Mike Risvold said 47-year-old William Mathews was taken to North Memorial Hospital, where he died from his injuries. 

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"Today for us is about family, it's about Bill's family, it's about our Wayzata Police Department family and our community," Risvold said. "We are overwhelmed by the outpouring support we have received as a police department from not only our community, but the law enforcement community at large."

Watch police processional as Mathews was transported to medical examiner's office from North Memorial:

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said at 12:30 p.m. Friday, Mathews received a call about debris in the road on Highway 12. While clearing the debris, Mathews was struck by an oncoming vehicle.

RELATED: Minneapolis Police Chief: Wayzata Officer Dies after Being Hit; Hwy 12 Partially Opened

Stanek identified the driver of the vehicle as Beth Freeman. Stanek said Freeman will be booked in the Hennepin County Jail.

The Minnesota State Patrol is handling the crash reconstruction investigation to determine how the incident occurred.

Col. Matt Langer with the State Patrol said criminal vehicular homicide charges are possible, but the cause of the crash needs to be determined first.

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Risvold said Mathews served nine years with the Wayzata Police Department. He added that Mathews was married with a 7-year-old son.

According to a release from the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, Mathews went to Pine Island High School and went on to Rochester Community College. He later graduated from Winona State University with a bachelor of science in law enforcement.

Prior to becoming a licensed officer, Mathew served as a reserve officer with the Winona Police Department and as an intern with the Rochester Police Department.

In 1998, he joined the Zumbrota Police Department.

"I can tell you he was one of the good ones," Risvold said.

Wayzata Mayor Ken Willcox remembers Mathews as someone with a big heart, which he said makes the situation event more tragic.

"I went on several ride alongs with him and the thing that stuck out was that he knew everyone," he said. "Even the kids know who Officer Mathews was."

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