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Fallen officer mourned

Redding was police force's top producer
By: Brenda Meadows, The Placer Herald
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John and Marilyn Redding of Rocklin wish their nightmare would end with a customary early morning surprise wake-up visit accompanied by a kiss from their son, Rocklin Police Officer Matthew Redding. But the proud parents will never again physically experience the laughter, kisses or hugs their son routinely brought to them with his surprise 3 a.m. visits during a break in his graveyard shift. Redding, 29, was hit by a pickup truck reportedly driven by Eric Dungan, 25, of Lincoln at about 4 a.m. on Sunday morning while directing traffic after a felony traffic stop on Highway 65, south of Stanford Ranch Road. "This pain hurts so deep, and it comes in waves," John said. "We are experiencing this incredible void. The loss is just too great and we can't accept it. If it weren't for the Lord, we couldn't make it." Born and raised in Rocklin, Matthew Redding is remembered fondly by the community as a youngster at Spring View Middle School and Del Oro High School. Matthew Redding, also a member of the mutual Rocklin/Roseville SWAT Team, had recently refinanced a home he bought in Lincoln to purchase an engagement ring for his fiancé, Jessica Navarette, 21. The couple met two years ago at a health and nutrition store. The hundreds of locals who knew Redding have provided an outpouring of support to the police department, with nightly candlelight vigils at the department. Redding was said to be a physical fitness enthusiast, the police department's top producer, and a kind and gentle man. His father said his son's caring and compassionate manner even caused some arrestees to say, "I am sure glad it was you who arrested me." Redding's parents said the family doesn't hold any animosity toward Dungan, the man authorities say was driving the pickup truck that struck their son. "He made a mistake," Marilyn said. "We all make choices, some good and some bad. His life is ruined, as our's is." Mark Redding, 26, said he admired his older brother, a man he felt was invincible. "It just doesn't seem real," he said. "He was always there for me, and now he won't be." According to Rocklin Police Sgt. Terry Roide, the young officer was unable to breathe when he arrived at the scene. He was Redding's supervisor. "I held his head in my arms," he said. "In 15 years I didn't know a better officer. I'd trade places with him if I could." Roide said Redding made 103 arrests in one year, and became his team's top producer. In 2003 he made 25 DUI arrests, the most by any officer in Placer County. "He could sniff out drugs and had a way of getting the people he arrested to tell him where they were hiding them," Roide added. Rocklin City Treasurer Vince Amado recalls Redding as a boy attending school with his son Jeff, who is also a Rocklin Police officer. "He was always such a nice kid," he said. "The department is taking this very hard." Also taking the news hard is the Hertzell family, who moved to Rocklin the same year the Reddings did - 1987. Their children attended school and played sports together. Former Little League coach Larry Hertzell said Redding was his first draft pick every year for seven years. "Matt's death couldn't have hit me any harder than it did, because both of my sons are also officers working for the California Highway Patrol," he said. "I called my sons and told them about Matt's death." Hertzell said he also told his sons how much he loved them and to be extra careful "out there, because other people do things that are unwise, unsafe and uncaring." Rocklin Police Cpl. Eric Dollar, who trained and mentored Redding when he joined the department four years ago, was on a hunting trip when he was told of the young officer's death. "I was in a deep sleep and something woke me up on Sunday at about 4:30 a.m.," he said. "I knew then something was going on. My phone wasn't working, so a park ranger came to the cabin and said my wife had called. I'll miss him. His presence lit up a room." Dollar said it seemed every call he went on resulted in someone asking him if he knew Redding. "He was such a special person and the community loved him," his father said. "We sensed that but didn't really know it until the past two days." There will be a memorial service for Redding at 10 a.m. Friday at Adventure Christian Church, 6401 Stanford Ranch Road in Roseville, followed by a private graveside service. Nightly candlelight memorials will be hosted at Rocklin Police Department headquarters through Thursday. Brenda Meadows can be reached at brendam@goldcountrymedia.com.