MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The family of a Wayzata police officer fatally hit by a car while clearing debris in the road last Friday released a statement on Tuesday, thanking the community for their support.

Officer William Mathews died last Friday after being hit by a vehicle on Highway 12 in Wayzata. Mathews had responded to a report of debris in the road. He was in the process of clearing debris when he was hit by a vehicle. He was transported to a hospital, and pronounced dead.

His family released a statement Tuesday afternoon.

“Wyatt and I would like to thank all of you for your support through this extremely difficult time. The out-pouring of love we feel all around us has been incredible. Bill lived his life to serve as an officer. From the time he began his schooling he knew being a Law Enforcement Officer was his calling and he wanted to do it with the utmost dignity and pride. There was not a single day Bill complained about going to work. He was there early and stayed late. Bill was proud to perform his duty as an officer in the communities of Wayzata and Long Lake, protecting and serving without hesitation. He deeply cared about his Wayzata Police family and will miss them, but will leave them with many stories and laughs.

Please keep Wyatt and I in your prayers. We need your strength. We will be forever grateful for the love and support shown by so many.

Bill, thank you for enriching our lives, being our comfort and strength.  Wyatt and I heart’s are broken. Bill was a compassionate husband, father, son, brother, brother-in law, uncle, Officer and friend. We will miss his smile, his laugh, his hugs and his uncanny ability to fix anything. Bill, your legacy will live on in our son Wyatt, we will never forget you.

You will always be our hero,” the statement reads.

The driver of the vehicle, identified as 54-year-old Beth Freeman of Mound, stopped at the scene and was cooperative with police. She was arrested and taken to the Hennepin County Jail, where she was booked for criminal vehicular homicide.

Freeman was charged on Monday and according to the criminal complaint, she admitted to talking on her phone and reading text messages just before the crash. She also failed a field sobriety test, and officers at the scene discovered drug paraphernalia with cocaine in it in her vehicle.

An investigation shows Freeman was driving with a canceled license.

Memorial services have been set for Mathews, and the public is invited to attend. A visitation will be held from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Wayzata Free Church. A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, also at Wayzata Free Church, with a burial to follow at Summit Park Cemetery in Wayzata.

A memorial fund has been set up for the family. You can donate to the Officer Bill Mathews Memorial Fund at Wells Fargo in Wayzata.

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