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Five years later Matt Redding’s memory lives on

By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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It’s something a parent hopes to never hear, but Marilyn Redding remembers the morning she heard it. “All I heard was, ‘Matt’s been in an accident,’” Marilyn Redding said, remembering the morning of Oct. 9, 2005 when her son, Rocklin Police Officer Matthew Redding, was killed in the line of duty. Matthew Redding was struck by a drunk driver during a traffic stop on Highway 65 south of Stanford Ranch Road. The driver, Eric Dungan, who had a blood alcohol level of .18, was convicted of second-degree murder and is currently serving 15 years to life in prison. Saturday marks five years after the officer’s death. But his memory clearly lives on in the Redding household. Photo collages and awards line the walls and shelves are filled with books full of condolence letters in the Redding family’s Rocklin home. The memory of Matthew Redding is also alive throughout the community. Through the Matt Redding Foundation, scholarships are given to graduating seniors at Del Oro High School, where Matthew Redding attended, as well as Rocklin and Whitney high schools. An annual golf tournament has also been set up, which attracted support from more than 100 local businesses and people this year. Run Rocklin, an annual 5K, 12K and kids community run, also attracts thousands in support of the foundation. New this year will be a Matthew Redding prepetual trophy awarded to the winner of Friday's Rocklin High vs. Del Oro High football game. John Redding said they plan to make this an annual trophy awarded during the Rocklin vs. Del Oro high school football games. John Redding, Matthew Redding’s father, said community members are constantly suggesting ways to include the Matt Redding Foundation in events. John Redding said it also helps the family look to the future. “It lifts our spirits – it keeps up moving forward,” John Redding said. “Matthew was a local boy. He grew up here … he loved the community and the town and the people loved him. His passing just knocked a hole in everybody’s hearts, those who knew him.” But soon after Matthew Redding’s death, they realized how much of an impact their son made on strangers. Condolence letters poured in from the states as far away as Florida and Nebraska, police departments across the country and a letter from President George W. Bush. The family also received letters from people Matthew Redding had arrested during his tenure with the Rocklin Police Department. John Redding said his son would talk with the people he arrested during the drive from Rocklin to the DeWitt Center in Auburn. He would urge them to turn their lives around and make changes, John Redding said. Matthew Redding became an officer in 2001 and within his time with the department, was the recipient of numerous awards. He received the lifesaving event award for assisting a man who was pinned under his truck during a car accident. For approximately 10 minutes, until assistance arrived, Matthew Redding and other officers lifted the truck off the victim, allowing him to breath. He also earned the Bronze Medal of Honor and was named Officer of the Year in 2005. Ironically, Matthew Redding was also awarded a Mothers Against Drunk Driving award in 2004 for his dedication for keeping drunk drivers off the street. Matthew Redding made 20 DUI arrests in the first nine months of 2005. Within that time, he also made 1,257 traffic stops and 61 drug-related arrests. Marilyn and John Redding said their son loved being a police officer. They said Matthew Redding also had a love for the community he grew up in, as well as in God. The back of his headstone reads a piece written by Matthew Redding in 1996: “I don’t know why some things happen in life but I do know they are not to be understood. God has a plan for me and that plan remains a mystery to me. There is a place where not many people have been but I have gone there my whole life. A place where I feel I am so close to God I could reach out and touch him. A place where everything is perfect.” Saturday, the Redding family and friends will come together for a barbecue to remember Matthew Redding — five years after his death. “We miss him so much,” John Redding said. “There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t hurt. Our faith held us up and we know in our hearts that we will see him again.” For more information on the Matt Redding Foundation, go to to www.mattreddingfoundation.org.