The Story Behind: The Last Ride
WE WOULD LIKE TO EXTEND OUR SINCEREST THANKS TO
THE PARTICIPANTS OF THE SONG AND VIDEO:
William Younginer, North Topsail Chief of Police
John Yopp, North Topsail Police Officer
Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association:
James Cole “Triple J”
Matt Sweeney “Tron”
Ed “Stones” Meyer
Christopher “Joker” Mitchell
Christine “Short stock” Mitchell
Josh “Juggernaut” Kelley
Tom “Tick Tock” Hayes
Honor Hike Foundation/ Smoking Shields of NC:
Your purchase helps support www.paddle4troops.org
WHO WE ARE
We are a group of creative individuals who have experienced the tragedy of the unexpected death of a 24- year-old young man – a Veteran, an active member of the National Guard, a Police Officer, a Hero, a son and brother to so many. We are honoring our loved one through words and music. We also would like to share our journey of his loss and the acceptance of it knowing his life continues in others. Matthew Scott Reilly was an Organ Donor. His passing is layered with several different stories of love, compassion and forgiveness and with the power of healing we have found in each other. We are using our gifts to keep his memory alive and as a platform to focus on the positive aspects that have come to light in the shadow of his death. This is Matthew’s story told as only those who loved him could do it.
Matthew Scott Reilly was born on February 1 st , 1993 in Hickory, North Carolina. He is the son of Lisa Calhoun (Reilly) Owen of Surf City, North Carolina and District Attorney Scott Reilly of Hickory, North Carolina. He was raised in both Hickory/Conover and Charlotte. He spent his school years in programs such as Boy Scouts, Sheriff’s Explorers, NJROTC before joining the US Army as a Military Police Officer. Matthew spent 5 years in the Military in both Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and South Korea. He served on the DMZ his first tour and was an Honor Guard at the Embassy on his second tour. While in service Matthew won several awards – one being a medal for saving the life of a fellow soldier. He left the Army in October 2016 but stayed active in the National Guard. He spent one semester at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. Matthew had so many dreams – one of which was to be a published author in Barnes and Noble, to write songs and to live with his mom at the beach to pursue a career in Law Enforcement and/or the fishing industry. He lived his life to the fullest –riding motorcycles, flying helicopters and small aircraft, hiking, biking, skydiving, hang gliding, shooting, hunting, archery and spent his time off volunteering for anyone who needed him. He lovedhis family more than anything – especially his little sister Meghan and her two children. He was a
loving, kind and considerate young man.
Matthew was an active member of the Hi Rollers Motorcycle Club based out of Charlotte. To be a member of the Hi Rollers you must spend a certain amount of time volunteering and helping those in need. The club rewarded the members with t-shirts and a leather vest. Matthew had earned both and on Memorial Day weekend of 2017 he and his friend J.J. decided to head to my home at the beach Friday night and spend Saturday at Myrtle Beach with the club to pick up his t-shirt and vest. They were riding on Highway 74 East and were less than an hour and a half from my front door when a 17-year-old honor student, Noah, pulled out into a very busy intersection crossing over the first two lanes and stopping in the middle median. The sun was setting at 5:27 pm almost blinding his ability to see traffic coming from the right and when he thought he saw a break in traffic he continued across the highway. Noah didn’t see JJ and Matthew at all. They did see him, so JJ swerved to the left, but Matthew went into the right-hand lane and hit Noah head on at the posted speed limit of 60 mph. EMS noticed Matthew had on a Veterans shirt and checked his wallet to find he was an organ donor. He was medevacked to McLeod Trauma Center in Florence, South Carolina and immediately put on life support. Our family was called in and Matthew was declared dead at 2:50 pm on Saturday, May 27, 2017.
SHARING HOPE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Sharing Hope was there to handle the process of locating the recipients and preparing our family for the transition from death to giving the gifts of life to those in need. The staff were extremely kind and generous in allowing us time to grieve yet explaining the process step by step. They stayed by our side and took great care in handling Matthew’s last days. Our family was so grateful knowing that Matthew was in such good hands and as we left his side for the final time there was great comfort knowing the staff would do everything possible to preserve Matthew’s dignity. They assured us we would have the opportunity to communicate with and possibly meet the recipients of Matthew’s organs.
Matthew received a full Military Funeral with over 575 people in attendance. Military from all over the world flew in as well as his Explorers Group, NJROTC and National Guard Unit. Our family is also heavily involved in Law Enforcement in the area and most of them attended. The Hi Rollers Motorcycle Club rode in the procession to the grave. Noah and his family were in attendance and at the funeral our family publicly forgave him. Noah was the last person to place the dirt on Matthew’s casket after it was lowered. Matthew made such an impact on so many and with his hilarious sense of humor the guests made sure they “tricked” his casket out before it was lowered. Military patches, funny stickers, t-shirts, coins – all kinds of things were buried with him. Mathew is buried in Conover, North Carolina.
THE COURT CASE
Noah was a 17-year-old Honor Student a week away from graduation when the accident occurred. He was charged with Failure to Yield and Death by Motor Vehicle. Scott, Meghan and I wrote a letter to the District Attorney in Brunswick County asking him to drop the charge of Failure to Yield and to allow Noah a Prayer for Judgment Continued for the Death charge. With the PJC Noah would not be considered guilty and it would not go on his record. He would be able to live his life as he intended. Myself and Catawba County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Kanipe attended court and sat with Noah, his parents and grandparents. We stood in unison to support Noah. Together we asked the Judge to help us petition the State of North Carolina Department of Transportation to put lights and/ or signage at the intersection of the accident. (Matthew was the 10 th person to be killed there and no alcohol or drugs were involved.) The Judge agreed and together a letter was written to the NCDOT to take immediate action. They complied and flashing lights with a slower speed limit was posted a few weeks later. Noah’s family also ordered a special wooden cross to be erected at the wreck site. In the middle of the wooden cross is a patriotic cross with Matthew’s name and death date on it. Noah’s mother and I keep the cross decorated and meet each other once a month to maintain it.
Noah is so much like Matthew in his actions and in how he lives his life. He loves to be outdoors, hunting, fishing, etc. He is an awesome young man who made a huge error in judgment forever changing his life and the lives of all those of us who loved Matthew. So much innocence was lost that fateful day but in forgiveness and by leaning on each other and sharing our experiences we can better handle the tragedy that befell us all that Memorial Day weekend. Noah and his family are now part of my inner circle and I love them all dearly. As the writers and musicians of this song we hope it will raise awareness to Matthew’s story of how one person’s choice to be an organ donor can impact so many lives. It is my personal wish the song will bring the recipients of his organs to me so I may meet them. We are so very blessed and thankful for all those who chose to be a part of the song and video and came together to honor a fallen brother. Matthew’s legacy lives on in those who were fortunate enough to receive his gifts of life and we will always remember his laughter, his giving personality and the love he had for his family and fellow man. We hope you enjoy it and share it with your friends and families.
Mom, Matt Bowlin, Michael Smith and Christy Holder McCraight