Here’s the first recorded interaction with Matthew, approximately 20 minutes after the crash. Please note that these were originally images that we converted to text using newOCR.com. There may be some minor translation errors.
He had been handcuffed by an officer who stated that he cuffed Matthew because he was too erratic in movements. Matthew wasn’t making sense and was “flailing.” This is from Officer Kera’s body cam:
RW: Rescue Worker
EK: Officer Kera
JD: Officer Dolida
MR: Matthew Rushin
At 2010 hours rescue was on scene to check on the driver’s welfare. While I was standing outside the marked patrol vehicle on the passenger rear side door the rescue worker was talking to the driver of the Tahoe in my presence. He started talking to the rescue worker stating:
(MR) Little Volvo coup. I stopped then I started freaking out because the car wasn’t pulling over. They weren’t backing up to park anywhere, so I started freaking out and I left the parking lot and I got on to the road and I was gonna turn, and then the light turned green so I decided to go straight so I got in the front of the Camry that was driving straight and I got to the end where the overpass was and I made a U‑turn there and there was a sign that says you can’t make a U‑turn there. As I was coming at the U‑turn I lost control of the vehicle and that’s when I came at the oncoming traffic.
(RW) No drugs or alcohol?
(RW) What city are we in?
(MR) Virginia Beach.
(RW) Anything hurting you right now?
(RW) What year is it right now?
(MR) 2018, then 2019 I am sorry.
(RW) What road are we right now?
(MR)Is this First Colonial.
(RW) What’s your name?
(MR) Matthew Rushin
(RW) What’s your birthday?
(MR) August, 4, 1998.
(RW) You wanna be treated or checked out or do you want to go to the hospital?
(RW) Anything hurting you.
(MR) No. I would like to get out of these (referring to the handcuffs) and talk to y’all.
(EK) At 20:16 hours. I identified the driver of the Tahoe as Matthew Rushin with DOB: 08/04/98 from when he was talking to the rescue worker.
(EK) What– is it Matthew right?
(MR) Yes sir.
(EK) I am just gonna stay here with you to make sure you alright man, okay.
(MR) I wanna talk to someone.
(EK) (While being detained Rushin initiated the conversation and I started talking to him.) I am right here. I mean you can tell me whatever you wanna tell me. I will listen.
(MR) I want to tell y’all the truth.
Matthew initiated the conversation, then stated that he wanted to tell the truth. As you will see from his speech, he’s still a bit disoriented. Autistic people will understand that Matthew’s communication is from someone who is overwhelmed and dysregulated.
They will also recognize honesty. In fact, I think all people would see this as someone who is so honest and detail-oriented, it’s patently absurd to assume that he’s not telling the truth. You will notice that he is very detailed in his recollection until the U‑turn.
(JD) I am officer Dolida
(EK) And I am Officer Kera.
(MR) Okay I was turning off the service road into the parking lot where Panera is and the whole wine, the wine place.
(EK) Total wines.
(MR) Yeah Total wines.
(EK) Up here on Laskin
(MR) Yeah. I work at Panera. It’s right next to Chipotle, Dairy Queen, and Chick Fila.
(MR) I was just gonna go there to get few pastries and come back home, my dad said to be home by 8:15 because is raining out and he doesn’t like me driving out in this weather so I turned onto the service road. I get there and I am turning into the parking lot and then a Volvo hits me as I am turning in.
(EK) You said as you’re turning into the parking lot from the service road?
(MR) As I am turning into the parking lot from the service road a Volvo hits me, hits my front left, and so I stopped I look at him and he is not backing up, he is not going anywhere so I freak out because I thought he was just gonna pull off. Maybe he did end up backing up going somewhere I really don’t know but I freaked out so and I wanted to get away from that area as soon as possible. My mind went into flight just mode and I just. I wanted to get away so I tore through the parking lot. I got into First Colonial and I got to the turning lane, and light turned green and I decided to go straight because I needed somewhere to make a U‑turn.
(EK) So from the Total wines parking lot you came to First Colonial.
(ER) By the Chick Fila is that what you’re talking about. Okay, alright. Yep.
(MR) Yes. I left through there coming onto the turning lane. Light turned green as soon as I came up to the light so I.
(EK) Which turn lane are you talking about now because I am confused? I am gonna listen to you and get your information. I wanna make sure I am tracking with you, so what turn lane are you talking about?
(MR) Yes, yes. The left turning lane on Laskin. Laskin and First Colonial. I am sorry, Laskin and First Colonial.
(EK) Were you coming straight or turning left?
(MR) First Colonial, so coming this way is the left turning lane.
(RW) You completely sure you don’t want to get transported?
[Here, it’s clear that the officer recognizes that Matthew isn’t making a lot of sense and might need medical attention. A concussion is a life-threatening event that could result in aneurysm. Officer Dolida knew Matthew had a traumatic brain injury. Yet, they keep pressing for information. A confused person isn’t able to recognize if they need medical help.]
(MR) Yes I am fine. I am fine. So is the left turning lane going.
(EK) From First Colonial into Laskin?
(MR) Yes. No, no, okay. At the intersection of Laskin and First Colonial.
(EK) Okay. Were you on Laskin or First Colonial?
(MR) First Colonial. I was at First Colonial at the intersection with left turning lane.
(EK) with Laskin, left turning lane with Laskin. Okay I am listening.
(JD) The right one or the left one.
(MR) The left. I am on First Colonial not Laskin. I am at the intersection with Laskin.
(EK) But you are on First Colonial. On First Colonial were you trying to go straight, turn left or go right.
(MR) I was originally going left and then I wanted to go straight. Light turned green, I will admit it I punched it, I wanted to get ahead of the cars and I did. I didn’t hit anyone I tried not to cut anyone off but I just didn’t know.
(EK) When you punched it did you make it left or you went straight.
(MR) I went straight.
Moving forward, notice how Matthew’s memory and understanding begins to fade around that U‑turn.
(EK) Okay, coming down which way this way the other way.
(MR) I didn’t realize that I couldn’t make a U‑turn at the intersection right before the.
(EK) You’re talking about the intersection right before the median brake right here?
(MR) Yes, the overpass where that intersection the overpass. I didn’t realize you couldn’t make a U‑turn until I was at that intersection staring at the sign as I was making the U‑turn. When I came out of it I lost control of the vehicle. I wasn’t fish tailing but I just couldn’t turn.
Here’s where things make no sense. Officer Kera asked Matthew about the intersection where he crossed into traffic. Matthew said, “Yes, the overpass where that intersection the overpass.”
Let me show you the map of the accident route. The red X is the median break Officer Kera is asking about. The blue X is what Matthew is referencing. The “overpass” and exit to the interstate is right after that U‑turn.
(EK) Okay. What happened next?
(MR) I hit the (incomplete statement). I saw the. It was a light Ford. I don’t know what exactly it was. I don’t know what make and model that vehicle is but I did hit, end up coming into the Ford. I don’t know how fast I was going. I honestly don’t know.
(EK) When you lost control did you wound up turning wrong way on that same lane? What happened? Explain it to me to make me understand this. You don’t have to get out. So when you went you said you were gonna turn around right.
(EK) So you spun out and you lost control. What happened next? How, make me understand this part.
(MR) I went from going that way [heading into the U‑turn] coming onto the oncoming traffic
(EK) So you spun around.
(JD) So you were going the wrong way. [I presume Officers Kera and Dolida think Matthew is saying that he spun around and was driving on the wrong side of the road from the U‑turn]
(MR) Yes. I was going the wrong way, yes.
(JD) Did you know that? Did you know that?
(MR) No, I didn’t realize that until I saw cars coming at me. When I made the U‑turn I didn’t realize where I am.
Here again, we can see that Matthew tells the police that he was making a U‑turn and then realized he was in oncoming traffic.
(JD) Because we are trying to figure out what happened.
(MR) No, no I am just
(EK) So when you went to turn around you lost control.
(MR) No, no, no. Okay I made the U‑turn I was driving the correct direction for like a second until I was out of control. That’s when I realized I was out of control than I came into the oncoming traffic then I realized I was onto the oncoming traffic so I saw cars coming at me. [It seems like Matthew believes that he was completing his U‑turn and ends up in traffic without any idea of how he got there.]
(EK) What car hit you first do you remember?
(MR) I saw the Ford turning. I don’t know if I hit them first. I can’t exactly remember.
(EK) Who hit you next after that?
(MR) I don’t know.
(EK) Did you go over the median?
(MR) No, no I did not.
(EK) So as you were U‑turning completely out of control wound out back the wrong way? [Again, Officer Kera is trying to understand if Matthew was driving that last quarter of a mile in the wrong lane. This is before forensics and witness testimony would flesh out the story more.]
(MR) No, I passed the turning lane. I passed the next turning lane after that the intersection and this one.
(EK) Where did you make the U‑turn? at the light?
(MR) Yes, at the no U‑turn sign. [By the interstate exit]
(EK) Okay, at the no U‑turn sign down there by the bridge by underpass.
(MR) Right before, yes.
(EK) Right before that. So you made the U‑turn onto the correct lane.
(MR) Yes, and then I lost control. [Again, he did not realize he drove a quarter of a mile before crossing into traffic]
(EK) How did you lose control, like how would you lose control? Make me understand that.
(MR) I might have hydroplaned. I wasn’t able to steer that’s what I mean by I wasn’t.
(EK) but you made the turn onto the correct lane
(MR) Yes I made the turn onto the correct flow of traffic.
(EK) And then what happens next.
(MR) What I mean by I lost control I don’t know if I was fish tailing but I could not steer any other way.
(EK) Alright, okay.
After speaking with Rushin I responded to the Burger King and conducted a recorded statement with OFC J. Ford with the witnesses in the dining area and turned that information to OFC C. Daley
Matthew would tell this same story again, and again, and again. For seven hours of interrogation, he would tell this same story.
He’s 20+ minutes after the accident. If he were going to craft a lie, this would not have been it. This isn’t the kind of story someone crafts to make up a lie.
Just like with someone who has focal seizures, Matthew had no idea that he lost consciousness, even though he notes that he “came to” several times (see first recorded instance below).
(EK) At 2302 hours. While I was watching Rushin inside OFC Ford patrol vehicle he asked me if he was going to get charged with manslaughter. [As soon as I read this, I know what Matthew was asking. He was asking if anyone died, but verbalizing that would be too painful.]
(EK) I don’t want to say something because I am not the one investigating the case, but if you want to talk to me I am here to talk to you. I am a human being like you are, so I don’t have a problem at all listening if you wanna talk to me but as far as the investigation the outcome I am not the lead investigator on it.
(MR) I mean was there anyone killed?
(EK) I know some people went to the hospital were transported while we were here, that’s what I observed. I don’t know as to their update or condition. I just know some people were transported by rescue to the hospital but I do not have an up to date condition to inform. Cars were damaged pretty good though. I am just glad you are okay. You are little bit banged up around your face and your mouth area but I am glad you are okay.
(MR) You know it all happened really quick because I saw a flash of their lights and then I was coming to and my truck the air bags all deployed and trying to get out this way over the air bag on this side, preventing me from getting out the window like I didn’t know I could get out that way so I went out through the back of my truck.
(EK) Yeah it could have been a lot worse. I am glad you are okay.
(MR) I hope the people that are involved are okay. Because I mean I saw something carried out on the stretcher.
(EK) That was around the time I was checking on you. That’s all I know too. I saw somebody come out and get transported by EMS.
Matthew is not a smooth operator. I’ve spoken to him. If asked a question, he will give you thousands of details without even asking who you are or why you want to know. He tells the whole story, the back story of the story, and the back story of the back story.
And, that’s an autistic way to relate, especially an autistic ADHD way to relate. I’m the same way. We don’t always understand the subtext or what information you’re seeking, so we give it all to you and hope that you can draw your conclusion based on the facts.
But, even if someone doesn’t understand autism, I can’t imagine anyone hearing this and thinking that this is a person who tried to kill people with his vehicle.
- CALL TO ACTION: It’s Matthew Rushin’s Birthday & a Video from Netflix’s Atypical and Friends — August 4, 2020
- What is Self-Harm, Why Does It Happen, and What to Do about It — August 2, 2020
- An Open Letter to Ralph Northam RE: Matthew Rushin — July 29, 2020