A year since tragedy, some perspective

One year ago a good friend of mine was killed in a motorcycle accident. Katrina Matthews was only twenty when she died in the middle of Southern Avenue. She was riding on a motorcycle driven by 28-year-old Demarkus Henry of Landover.

Henry was likely trying to show-off, driving on the wrong side of the road at a high rate of speed. He collided head on with a car, though somehow he survived the crash. He was charged in DC Superior Court on June 24, 2008 with Involuntary Manslaughter.

In December he pleaded guilty to the charge of Negligent Homicide. Five months later in May of this year he would finally receive his sentence. 18 months in prison, 15 of those months suspended. 18 months of probation and 200 hours of community service. Also, a $100 payment to the victims of violent crime fund.

Katrina and I both started working at a hardware store the same day. Well, she'd always say she started the day before me, but we went to orientation on the same day. We had come to that job from completely different backgrounds. I was temping and working the door at a rock club, and needed more money. She was raising a baby girl and needed work. Her commute to the store would some days be upwards of 2 hours, on the bus and Metro. But she always came in.

Everyone at the store loved her, and when I left in April of last year to open another store, I knew I would miss her. Fall of 2007 had been a rough time for me, and she'd always hear me out when I had something to complain about. She had a way of making me shut up when I'd complain that life wasn't fair or some other similar drivel.

A year ago, I was waiting on our delivery truck at the new store. I knew they'd be stopping at my old store first, so I called them for a status update. I knew something was wrong as soon as they answered the phone. I started to ask about the truck and was cut off with "Dave, Trina is dead."

This is an intensely personal post for this site. I can't speak to whether or not justice was served in this case. She left behind a beautiful little girl, and I can tell you with certainty if I had talked with her and she mentioned riding on a motorcycle with some guy she just met, I would have told her she was being stupid. I would have told her to think about her little girl. But that's all beside the point. There's nothing that can be done about it now. It's a tragedy and that's all there is to say.

She always had a way of making other people realize what's important, and not to let things get to you. She was great with customers and could disarm even the snottiest, rudest people. She was going to attend the DC Fire Academy in the Fall of 2008. Sadly she didn't get the chance. She was so excited about that.

This has nothing to do with the mission of this site. I just wanted to share that story. Going through the emotions of this helps me put into perspective what is important. It's easy to get wrapped up in things, to be consumed by them. Take a deep breath and tell your friends and family how much they mean to you.