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Friends, colleagues remember police officer killed in crash

READ MORE: Friends, colleagues remember police officer killed in crash
A Wilmington Police officer died in a car crash early Wednesday morning. Officer Richard Matthews died after losing control of his patrol car around the 3900 block of Shipyard Blvd. at 1:18 a.m. He was heading east on Shipyard to back up another officer when he apparently lost control, crossed the median and hit a tree. Crews took him to New Hanover Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. Officer Matthews was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. Long-time friend Sue Gallagher got a phone call at 3 in the morning, informing her of her dear friend's death. "He was very proud," Gallagher said. "He used to tell my daughter a lot that he would be out there catching the bad guys, and he would." Officer Matthews was recently issued a commendation for his acts of bravery, courage and professionalism on the job. He and several of his co-workers were honored for their work during a structure fire on Park Avenue. Officer Matthews, and four other officers, awakened and evacuated residents of the complex as the fire was spreading quickly. Their actions included taking a 96-year-old woman to safety. "He volunteered for everything and he was a hard, hard worker," says Police Chief Ralph Evangelous. Officer Matthews was 28 years old. He had been part of the Wilmington Police Department since December, 2006. He came to WPD after serving with the New York City Police Department from January 2004 until December 2006. In Wilmington, Officer Matthews spent time at the Port City Community Church. Pastor Mike Ashcraft remembers him fondly. "His close friends began coming here, and that's how we got to know him," he said. Officer Matthews was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Matthews of Bethlehem, PA. His funeral service will be held in his hometown early next week. A memorial service will most likely take place in Wilmington the following week. Donations in memory of Officer Matthews may be directed to the Wilmington Police Recreation Association, c/o Lt. Matt Hinson, 615 Bess Street, Wilmington, NC 28401.

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I was fortunate enough to know Rich Matthews through my work and through our church. He was a great guy and loved serving as a Police Officer in Wilmington. He was doing what he loved when he was taken from us. Wilmington was very fortunate to have had such a great officer working for them and he will be sorely missed. Once I asked Rich how he handled the stress of his job. He said, "You just have to live in the moment." That is exactly what he did in his life and perhaps that is good advice for us all. Rest in Peace Rich, my family will miss you more than you will ever know...We are praying for you and your family.

RIP 313

Richard, you have earned your angel wings much sooner than you should have. Thanks for making Wilmington a better place to live and work. May you Rest in Peace. I will never forget you and working on the other side of the radio with you. RIP 313

You will be missed Rich!!!

My heart goes out to Officer Rich's family. I was shocked and sadened to hear about his death. I played volleyball on the same team with him and remembered him as a very sweet, caring and dedicated person. It was good to know you Rich and I will miss you! I am thinking of you and your entire family and all the loved ones that were in your life. May they find peace from this tragedy. Marie

Officer Matthews

Rich, we will all miss you very much. Thank you for all your kindness and support, you are one of the finest there ever was.

WPD Officer Killed

I for one I am proud to say I knew this fine officer. His death was an accident that was witnessed by a fellow officer, and he will forever be affected by this accident too. This accident has affected law enforcement officers nationwide. This brotherhood is now and forever missing a vital member, as they are all vital members. My prayers go our to his family, loved ones, and fellow officers. He died doing what he was meant to do...serving the public and keeping us all safe. This accident should serve as a reminder to all of us that we are not promised tommorrow. Take time to thank those that work in the best interest of public safety. We cannot second guess this officer's decision to rush to assist another officer. As a former member in law enforcement I can honestly say thank you to this officer and all of the other officers who patrol our streets. As a community we should all be sharing our sorrow, because like or it or not we have lost a friend, a neighbor, and his parents have lost a son too soon. God Bless



Thank you Officer Matthews and all WPD, SP, and NHCSD

While I never had the pleasure of meeting Officer Matthews, I am so grateful for the service he has provided my family. Thank you for working so hard to keep my neighborhood and my town safe for our children. Thank you for all of the times you protected us and never heard a "thank you" at the end of a hard day. We are sad to have lost you as an officer and realize that you have made the ultimate sacrifice, but we know you will be watching over us from Heaven. God Bless. The Gainey Family Grateful citizens Wilmington, NC

Second Guessers

It's easy to sit on the sidelines and give directions. I lived in Wilmington all my life until a few years ago. I saw several chases come through my neighborhood and the only one doing anything wrong were the criminals. At every cross street and intersection officers stood by and blocked traffic to prevent innocent by standers from being hurt. Every time I needed an officer from WPD they were there and acted in a most professional manner. I have several friends who serve on the force in Wilmington and I know for a fact each one of them would lay down their lives to protect and serve the citizens of Wilmington NC. This young man gave his life trying to get to a fellow officers side in a time of need and to be critical of that is almost blasphemous. These are the men and women who say as long as I live you will be safe and nothing bad is going to happen on my watch if I can help it. God Bless the family of this fallen officer, God Bless the WPD, and God Bless America. R.I.P. you earned it.

God Bless You Officer Matthews

I am truly sorry to hear about the death of one of our Wilmington Police Dept unsung heros. My condolences to his family, both blood and fellow officers. This is a horrible loss. The dope dealers should be charged with murder in this case. These officers put their life on the line everytime they go to work, TO PROTECT US!! God bless you all.

R.I.P. Brother

I pray for the family......may god be with you during this tragic time in your life. Remember the good things that this officer did, and all the people he helped. He made a difference! RIP

dope dealer

i hope they can charge the dope dealer that was running from them that night with his death. not many men could do his job, take the abuse they take and still come to work everyday. guess whoever said pot dont kill was wrong, this police man died for a pot dealer that would not stop for police and was throwing his pot out the window. tks mr.policeman u will be missed.


Thank you Officer for your service. It is greatly appreciated. WPD ~ Keep Strong. The majority of us out here do not question and are sincerely greatful for everything you do. There's no need to say anything negative on a public forum like this. Every one of you who had something negative to say should be ashamed.


How dare any of you second guess the situation? As the mother of two law enforcement officers and the aunt of several others (including one serving on the Wilmington Police Department) I know how dangerous the job is. I dread the thought one day it might be my son or nephew that needs back up. How would you feel if it was your father/brother/sister/mother /son or daughter serving on the police force? My guess is you would want a brother in blue to respond as quickly as possible. Was this public enemy number one? I don't know… but with the gang problems in Wilmington- there was reason to suspect the worse case senario. And in case you don't know- gang members and drug dealers are ruthless SOBs. They don't care who they hurt- whether it is your child playing in the yard or the law enforcement officer that stops their car. And if it was gang related- MS13 maybe- you are talking about criminals without a moral conscious. Unfortunately when someone carries a concealed weapon they don't glow green. Signs don't flash and point to them. Every stop must be treated as if it will turn lethal. So until people with concealed weapons glow in the dark- every office must take all precautions necessary. And DON'T second guess. You aren’t out there putting your life on the line. RIP- my heart goes out to his family to include his police family. A sad day for everyone.

Queit down, that kind of

Queit down, that kind of fear and rhetoric is not an effective debate tactic.


A typical response from someone that hasn't seen the effects of gang war and drug dealers infiltrating their communities. I use to live on the border of the US and Mexico and have shared my city with ruthless drug traffickers and violent gangs. Fact is fact so get your head out of the hole in the ground. If we don't accept reality and take an active stand with every drug dealer/trafficker and gang member their numbers will grow and you too will have the opportunity to see first hand what it is like. Think of it as pest control. If you don't take action when you see the first rat- pretty soon you will have entire colonies living with you. I for one want to accept reality- deal with the situation early on so the probelm will never fester and grow into the unmanagemable mess we see in other cities.

My most sincere condolences

My most sincere condolences go out to Officer Matthews family and to his brothers and sisters of the Wilmington Police Dept.

RIP not bashing him but at

RIP not bashing him but at what speed should the police go to a call if a speed limit is 40 should they go 90 to 100+ to help another office that had the car pulled over no need to risk there life or another person life the police need to look a making everyone safe even there own life there are other officers working that would be able to help out i am sure



Your comment on police

Your comment on police officers exceeding the posted speed limit while answering a call for help from a fellow officer concerns me. In reading your comment I get the feeling that you have the same attitude as much of the general population, public safety officers should obey all traffic laws until (I NEED THEM). You are most likely one of those people that find it to be very inconvient for the Fire Dept. to block traffic during an automobile accident. If you or a loved one were in the need of help I am quite sure that you would expect there to be no delay from a Police Officer or a Firefighter. Every day when these men and women go to work they are first and foremost concerned with their safety and the safety of fellow Officers or Firefighters. Their next priorty is the safety of the public they serve. This is a very close second. These men and women that choose to serve should be held in the highest reguards, just as most of us hold our nations military personel. They work long hours for little compensation and in sometimes adverse conditions. I feel fairly certain that on Wednesday morning when the Officer lost his life you as I were home safe in our beds, and the reason we are able to sleep so soundly is because of the work these Public Safety Officers do. Something that has come to my attention while I have been typing this response is how quickly the American Public forgot the 343+ Public Safety Officers who layed down their lives on that September morning in 2001. So in closing I ask you to remeber all the men and women who keep us and our families safe here at home, and the next time you see one on the street stop and think how lucky we all are to have such fine men and women who are willing to sacrfice their own lives in order to save a fellow human being.

Sad loss

PublicS: I did not detect a lack of empathy in the post you commented on at all. This is a waste of a decent human being....No officer should be allowed to drive at excessive speeds EVER. Their lives are at stake and not worth losing for some lowlife or putting the law abiding citizens at risk on the street. Also, the American public has not forgotten 9/11 PSO victims, including the thousands of others having their coffee that morning at work who where murdered. Just like to add here that 2 of my husbands cousins worked in the towers, by chance they were both out of town on business. This is VERY sad and I feel for all involved. My sympathy's go out to the young officers family and his coworkers.

Excessive speed?

Maybe I've missed something in all the coverage, but where did it say that Officer Matthews was speeding? The speed limit is 50 on Shipyard, I believe? Has it been determined yet that he was speeding?

Public Safety...

Very well said. It seems that the caring and generosity of this young man did not stop when he took off his uniform at the end of the shift. Not only did he give his life while trying to assist his fellow officers, but now people want to try to blame him or LE practices which have been long in effect somehow. Unless these people were there and witnessed what happened, they have no business making unfair and most likely inaccurate assumptions. My thoughts and prayers are with both his family in blue and his family in blood. I know a man like this will be missed by many.


After finding this article on a website that I go to regularly for my job. I realize that my county is not the only county with people that like badgering people even in time of tragedy. I work on the other side of the radio for EMS,FIRE,POLICE and Sheriff. And this is a tragedy, I cannot believe some of the comments I have been reading. Public Safety I agree with you, but these people do not realize how quickly the simplest thing can turn deadly... here is a link to a article that explains just such an incident: Citizen on Radio - NH - On May 10, 2007 Franconia (NH) Cpl. Bruce McKay pulled over a car for a traffic violation, and then became involved in a shoot-out with the suspect. McKay was mortally wounded, but a citizen picked up a loose gun and killed the suspect, and then used McKay's car radio to call for help. If are curious do a search for the date and officers name and take a peek..... And to all who choose not to, get your facts straight...DO SO BEFORE COMMENTING

I never knew you, but...

..thanks for just having been there.

Doesn't matter how fast he was going.

Officer Matthews was going to help another officer that asked for that help. Being in Law Enforcement I know that it feels like an eternity before help arrives if you are in trouble. This is an extremely dangerous job that the general public will never truly understand. I'm thankful that no one else was hurt on the road as I'm sure Officer Matthews would agree. Please lets don't forget what lengths our Law Enforcement, FireFighters, and EMS go to to protect us. Thank you Officer Matthews for your bravery. You will be missed.

To Deputy

I am sorry the young officer got killed. But to say it doesn't matter how fast he was going, is not right. Lets say U or your family member or anyone, were passing in front of the trees at the time the offier crossed the media, and struck and killed your family or anyone. Would U still feel the same?

Speed is not the issue

Speed is not the issue here...and to even bring it up without knowing how fast he was actually going is nothing more than trying to put the blame for all this on the officer

Will be missed

You will be missed brother.

Fallen Officer

My absolute condolences to his families - both the blood relatives and his WPD family. Wilmington lost a brave and honorable man today. This officer may have been young, but he had worked with the NYPD for nearly three years before coming here. He had also received a medal of commendation for valor for rescuing residents of a Wilmington apartment complex that had caught fire. He and other officers saw the fire and went in to awaken residents. One of the residents was an elderly woman who was hard of hearing, too. This officer was a special person who I'm sure always gave of himself before asking anything of others.

God Bless

God bless and comfort the family of this fine young man!! So terribly sorry this happened to one of the 'good guys'!!