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 Main 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).