FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Sunday marked the 14th anniversary of the last officer to be killed in the line of duty in Allen County.
Officer Bradley Matteson was 43-years-old when he was killed and had been on the force for 19 years. Matteson was returning from a service call early in the morning of October 5, 2000 when a semi truck ran a red light and hit him at the intersection of Coliseum and State Boulevards. That stretch of road is now renamed in his honor.
“Fourteen years is a really long time, and a lot of things have happened between then and now, but when today hits, it’s like we’re right back where we were when it happened,” his wife Susan Matteson-Thomas said.
In the years since the crash, his family said they try to spend the day remembering. The family said the day is more about celebrating his life rather than thinking of the tragic event that happened. Matteson-Thomas said she’ll usually have dinner with her kids or go out and get a margarita with her friends because it was her husband’s favorite. They share and swamp stories of her late husband and remember the good times.
“As much as he [was] celebrated as a police officer, his core was being a family man,” Matteson-Thomas said.
She said her husband died doing what he loved because he was called to serve and protect. Matteson-Thomas said she has found a support system with other line-of-duty widows across the state and said out of the tragedy, there has been some good. It brought the police department closer, and there’s now a memorial on Wells Street.
“It just brought a lot more awareness to the fact that this could be any officer at any time,” Matteson-Thomas said.
Also, two of his three children are following in their father’s path and pursuing careers in criminal justice.