MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Wayzata Police are confirming that one of their officers was struck and killed by a motorist on Highway 12 Friday afternoon.
Wayzata Police say Officer William Mathews was responding to a call of debris in the roadway at about 12:30 p.m. He pulled over in a marked vehicle and was picking up that debris on the east side of the highway when he was hit.
Police say the driver stopped immediately, and law enforcement responded soon after and performed CPR on Mathews. He was taken to North Memorial Medical Center, but was pronounced dead soon after arriving.
Mathews was a nine-year veteran of the department, and leaves behind a wife and 7-year-old son. Wayzata Police Chief Mike Risvold describes Mathews as “one of the good ones.”
The city put its flags at half-staff Friday afternoon. And outside city hall, a card could be found with a child’s handwriting on it, addressed to “Mr. Policeman.” Nearby, balloons helped to create a memorial for a life taken far too soon.
“Today, for us, is about family, it’s about Bill’s family, it’s about our Wayzata Police Department family and it’s about our community,” Risvold said. “We’re overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that we’ve received as a police department from not only our community, but the law enforcement community at large. This is an enormously sad day for us, and we pray for Bill and his family.
The driver was identified late Friday afternoon as 54-year-old Beth Freeman, from Mound. She was booked into Hennepin County Jail, where she is being held without bail on suspicion of criminal vehicular homicide. Police say she has been cooperative.
Traffic on both sides of Hwy. 12 were closed for hours between Shoreline Drive and Wayzata Boulevard during the investigation. The westbound side was re-opened by 4 p.m., but the eastbound side is still closed as of early Friday evening.
New Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced Officer Mathews’ death during his swearing-in ceremony Friday, and then called for a moment of silence.
The Minnesota State Patrol will handle the reconstruction of the accident.