Wayzata police officer dies after being struck by vehicle on Highway 12

A Wayzata police officer died Sept. 8 after being struck by a vehicle on Highway 12 in Wayzata.

Wayzata Police Officer William Mathews with his wife and 7-year-old son. (Photo provided by Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office)

Officer William Mathews, 47, had pulled over his marked squad car to the side of the highway and stepped outside while responding to a 911 call at around 12:30 p.m. about debris on the highway when he was struck by a vehicle, according to the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the death of one of Wayzata’s finest,” Wayzata Police Chief Mike Risvold said at a late-afternoon press conference at the Wayzata Fire Station, where flags flew at half staff.

Mathews was married and the father of a 7-year-old boy. He had been with the police department for nine years.
Risvold, who had just returned to Wayzata from North Memorial Medical Center, fought back tears as he announced the news.

“Today, for us, is about family,” the police chief said. “It’s about Bill’s family, it’s about the Wayzata Police Department family and it’s about our community.”

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said the driver of the vehicle, Beth Ilene Freeman, 54, of Mound, stopped immediately after hitting the officer and was cooperative at the scene, but was booked into Hennepin County jail at around 6 p.m. on probable cause of criminal vehicular homicide.

According to state records, Freeman was driving on a revoked license and has a criminal record that includes prior convictions for aggravated and careless driving, driving while impaired, driving without a license and several felonies for fifth-degree drug possession.

Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matt Langer said the State Patrol will work to reconstruct the crash and file a report over the next few weeks. The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office is also investigating the incident.

“Our troopers are working very closely with Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office to figure out everything that we need to uncover to ultimately come to a conclusion as to what caused today’s tragedy,” Langer said.

The incident caused a complete shutdown of Highway 12 between Shoreline Drive and County Road 101 in Wayzata.
Emergency vehicles from several public safety agencies, including the Wayzata Police Department, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and the Minnesota State Patrol, were on the scene to investigate and direct traffic.

“Additional law enforcement arrived and immediately began CPR and first aid. EMS transported the officer to an area hospital. The officer was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly after arriving,” Stanek said.

Mathews graduated from Pine Island High School and went on to attend Rochester Community College. He graduated from Winona State University with a bachelor of science in law enforcement.

Prior to becoming a licensed peace officer, Mathews served with both the Winona Police Department as a reserve officer and the Rochester Police Department as an intern. He began his career as a licensed officer in 1998 with the Zumbrota Police Department, also working part-time with the Olmstead County and Goodhue County Sheriff’s Offices.

Mathews began his career with the Wayzata Police Department in October 2008, where he was a firearms instructor, a field training officer and a reserve coordinator.

A funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, at Wayzata Free Church, 705 County Road 101, Plymouth. Visitation is 3-8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13 at the church.

The “Officer Bill Mathews Memorial Fund” has been established at the Wells Fargo Bank Wayzata branch, 900 E. Wayzata Blvd.

MnDOT traffic cameras on Highway 12 at Central Avenue in Wayzata show traffic being diverted following an incident involving a Wayzata police officer being struck and killed while trying to clear debris from Highway 12. (Photo: MnDOT)
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek stands behind Wayzata Police Chief Mike Risvold as he announces Friday, Sept. 8, that Wayzata Police Officer William Mathews was struck by a vehicle and killed while trying to remove debris on Highway 12. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Jason Jenkins)
Flags fly at half staff Sept. 8 at Wayzata City Hall after Wayzata Police Officer William Mathews was struck by a vehicle and killed while trying to remove debris on Highway 12. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Jason Jenkins)