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Wayzata police officer hit and killed while clearing debris off highway

He was clearing debris off the highway at the time.

A Wayzata police officer died Friday after he was hit by a car while clearing debris off of Highway 12. 

Police Chief Michael Risvold announced the death of Officer William Mathews, 47, at an afternoon news conference. Mathews was a nine-year veteran of the department, Risvold said, and he leaves behind a wife and 7-year-old son.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said Matthews was responding to a 911 call about some debris on the highway. 

He got out of his squad car to remove it and was hit by a vehicle. Paramedics gave him first aid but he was pronounced dead at a hospital, Stanek said. 

The vehicle that hit Mathews was driven by a 54-year-old woman from Mound who is cooperating with investigators, he said.

The State Patrol will lead an investigation into the cause of the crash. Col. Matt Langer told reporters criminal charges are possible but said it will take time for investigators to reconstruct the incident. He declined to comment on whether the driver had been drinking.

The accident occurred just after 12:30 p.m. in the eastbound lanes between Wayzata Boulevard and County Road 101/Central Avenue, and shut down Highway 12 for a few hours. 

The State Patrol wants to hear from anyone who saw the incident at 1-888-988-TIPs (8471).

Sympathy and tributes

Other law enforcement agencies were among those sending condolences to the Wayzata department and Chief Risvold said he was overwhelmed by the showing of support. 

The Star Tribune reports that during his swearing in ceremony Friday, new Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo asked for a moment of silence in honor of Mathews.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, only one other Wayzata police officer has died in the line of duty. 

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