Local News

Matthew West's Parents Speak About Loss Of Son, Officer's Apology

Posted April 2, 2004

— Matthew West's family is still trying learn how to move forward without him. They said Wednesday's courtroom deal helped close at least one painful chapter in their lives.

Robin Smith and Adrian West said the last eight months have been trying on the whole family.

"It's been heart-wrenching, difficult and hard," Smith said.

Matthew West died last July after the Jeep he was riding in was hit by a Durham police officer. In court Wednesday for the first time, the Wests came face-to-face with the man who killed their son.

"I'm sorry," Alfred Rodriguez said.

The judge fined Rodriguez $100 plus court costs and dismissed the death by motor vehicle charge.

"We were trying to turn the page and get beyond it," Adrian West said.

The couple said one reason they agreed to the plea was out of consideration for Rodrigeuz's family.

"He has a wife and two children. Is it fair for us to want to incarcerate him because of this?" Smith said.

The Wests' family attorney is in talks with the city of Durham regarding a wrongful death claim. In a statement, Jay Trehy said, "With insurance available to compensate for Matt's death, we fully expect the City to accept its legal responsibility for its officer's negligence."

The family said they have tried to focus on the positive and keep Matthew's memory alive. Matthew was very active in the arts and a popular counselor at Camp Kanata. His family has established the Matthew Paul West Foundation to help support his interests.

If you are interested, you can send donations to: The Matthew P. West Foundation 6303 Acorn Ridge Trail Hillsborough, North Carolina 27278

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