Guy Stanley "Jim" Matthews

7-20-1891              5-12-1924

 

Guy Matthews was born on July 20, 1891. His parents, Thomas J. Matthews (1865-1949) and Susie E. Matthews (1871-1966), settled in Whittier, California when Guy was about three years old. Guy had two sisters Violet Matthews/Kline (1899-?) and Kizzie Matthews/Gresham (1904- 1969). Guy married Mary Matthews/Irvin (1891-1969) and they had three children. Guy went by the name "Jim" in his personal and professional life.

 

Guy joined the Orange County Traffic Squad as a motorcycle officer in April of 1924. The Orange County Traffic Squad was comprised of county employees hired to handle traffic problems in all areas of the county.

 

In 1929, the CHP absorbed the squad along with many other traffic related departments. The rookie officer and young family man was surely proud of his new employment. Little did he know that five weeks later he would become the second law enforcement officer and first motorcycle officer to die in the line of duty in Orange County.

 

On the afternoon of May 8, 1924 Matthews was on duty traveling south on Main Street at the intersection of Camile. Motorist Pete Rueter was traveling north on Mam Street setting up for a west bound turn on Camile. Traffic slowed for Rueter as Rueter entered the intersection. Matthews was traveling at about 30 MPH and may not have seen Rueter's car crossing in front of him. When Matthews saw Rueter's car he swerved, struck the car and was thrown off his motorcycle. Matthews lay in pain on the sidewalk with his left foot severely mangled from the accident.

 

Matthews was transported to Orange County Hospital (now UC Irvine) where he had his foot amputated. Gangrene soon settled into the fresh amputation and on May 12, 1924 another amputation above the left knee was performed. Matthews died on the operating table during the surgery. Prior to the surgery, one of his last statements was that Rueter was not responsible but that he (Matthews) caused the traffic accident. This statement was important because a coroner's inquest was pending for charges to be possibly been filed against Rueter. This dying declaration from a true professional cleared Rueter.

 

"Escorted by a squadron of motorcycle officers, including virtually all of the state and city officers on duty in the county led the hearse to Whittier." (Santa Ana Register, May 12, 1924).

 


 

Comments from Sergeant Eric Hendry (circa 2002)

 

I was conducting research biographies on all officers killed in the line of duty in this county. The plan was to give these biographies to each officer riding in the "Memorial Ride" from the state capitol to Orange County. Each rider is riding for a specific officer who paid the ultimate sacrifice for this county. However the riders may or may not know the officer they are representing due to the officer having died decades ago or being from a different agency. We believed a biography would empower the emotion of each rider if they knew something about the officer whose name would be on their helmet for six days.

 

All but one of the biographies was easy to locate but one man's name eluded my search. Officer Guy Stanley Matthews of the Orange County Traffic Squad (later taken over by CHP) is listed by the O.C. Peace Officer Memorial with the last name misspelled as "Mathews" with a year date only of 1924 with no birth date (all other plaques have birth dates)*. The CA State Peace Officer Memorial uses the first name "Jim", the wrong date of death only as 1929, no birth date and no biography. The National Peace Officer Memorial does not acknowledge Matthews. The State CHP Memorial does not acknowledge Matthews but acknowledges others from similar departments absorbed by the CHP.

 

As an OCSD historian I conducted research in the department’s historical archives and found only a date of death May 11, 1924 (later determined to be May 12, 1924) from a motorcycle accident. The OC Recorders Office gave me a copy of Matthews' death certificate to settle descrepencies once and for all. (See attachment below).

 

I searched the OC Register archives at the Santa Ana Public Library and discovered two articles detailing the death of "Officer G.E. Mathews" (misspelled last name and wrong middle initial) on May 12, 1924 (See Attachments).

 

I went to Rose Hills Cemetery in Whittier and found the grave marked Guy S. Matthews (1891-1924) along with the rest of the family grave markers.

 

Officer Guy S. "Jim" Matthews died serving his community and we have failed to recognize his sacrifice with the honor he deserves. Misspellings, inaccurate dates and names must be addressed on the County and State Memorials. Induction into the CHP and National memorials are a must.

 

-Sergeant Eric Hendry, OCSD Historian

 

*OC Peace Officers' Memorial plaque has been corrected to include Officer Matthews full name including "Jim" and birth date. CA Peace Officers' Memorial website updated their correction June, 25, 2013. The California Highway Patrol does not ackowledge agencies it absorbed before 1929. The National Law Enforcement Memorial website does not acknowledge Guy S. Matthews.

 

Attachments

 

Front page Santa Ana Register, October 8, 1924.

 

 

Circled area is location of crash in Santa Ana, 1924.

 

 

Gravesite at Rose Hills Cemetery in Whittier.

 

Photo of San Diego Traffic Squad circa 1920s (note: not OC Traffic Squad)

 

Info from Rose Hills Cemetery, Whittier CA website

 

Special thanks to Sergeant Eric Hendry of the Orange County Sheriff's Department for extensive researching and

compilation of Guy Stanley "Jim" Matthews' biography and detailing of events and thanks to retired Deputy Doug Woodward

of the Orange County Sheriff's Department for spearheading the OC Peace Officers Memorial Ceremonies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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