Road debris kills Valley man in 2006, family urges driver responsibility

Posted at 6:29 AM, Jun 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-07 17:21:33-04

Matthew Reif was an all-American boy raised in New York by his mom and his firefighter dad.

He played football and hung out with his friends.

"Good person, good kid, I mean, Matthew is all of what you'd want as a child," his father Paul Reif told me.

On June 6th, 2006, while working a construction job in the San Tan Valley, the unthinkable happened.
"I kept calling his cell phone. Nobody answered. So I knew at that point we had a problem."

A metal leaf spring from a truck or trailer shot off the road like a bullet, killing the 29-year-old as he drove on Hunt Highway.

RELATED: See a problem on the road? Report it here

Paul told me the devastation is still raw; the loss enough to paralyze his parents 12 years later. As a former first responder, Paul couldn't let Matthew's memory fade or his life be in vain.

"In order to understand what I have to say you have to be in my shoes."

Paul would never wish the pain on another parent, but he does want every driver in the state and across the country to secure their load as if their family was driving in the next car back.

"When you got your driver's license, when you signed for that, you took the responsibility as a driver to make sure our Arizona roadways are safe."

Trooper Kameron Lee said DPS responds to a thousand debris-related crashes in Arizona every year.
"It's extremely frustrating when you know that could have been avoided completely."

But it depends on the decisions of each driver. Education is key to this campaign and that is why Paul can't rest. Matthew's memory won't let him.

"Road debris is the kind of thing that can be cured. All you need to do is tie your stuff down."

RELATED: Secure Your Load: 5 tips to help save lives on the road

Check out or for more information.