‘You never just think it’ll hit home;’ Clark Co. Deputy’s widow speaks about support after his death

CLARK COUNTY — It’s been 23 days since Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Yates was shot and killed in the line of duty. For Tracy Yates, it’s been 23 days without her husband.

In an exclusive interview with News Center 7, Yates said she and her family have been taking things one day at at time since the day her husband was shot.

Yates, joined by her oldest son Anthony and father-in-law Gene Yates, said the family has felt a strong community support and has been blown away by how they’ve chosen to honor her late husband.

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“Some of the stories that I’ve heard have just been amazing. I mean everyone that I meet has a story and something that [Matt has] impacted their life on a positive note,” she said.

Many of those stories and memories she’s been told involve his smile and handshake.

“He always greeted you with a handshake and left you with a smile,” she told News Center 7′s Mike Campbell.

Yates said she knew her husband was a great man, but the stories she hears have reinforced that.

“The community has really stepped up and shown me how great Matt really was,” Yates said.

But still, hearing the stories make his loss so difficult. Yates said in the weeks since her husband’s death, the mornings and nights have been the most difficult time for them.

“He’s so loud in the mornings, so missing that,” Yates said. “Waking up the whole house in the morning.”

Another thing Yates misses about the evenings has been the sound of Velcro. She recalled how she used to love hearing the sound of Velcro and “that vest come off.”

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During Deputy Yates’ 15 years as a deputy, Yates said they had a routine whenever a dangerous situation came up and she reached out to him.

“He would always answer the phone and say ‘I’m good’ and hang up,” she recalled. “Because I knew he couldn’t talk, I knew he couldn’t stay on the phone.”

She attempted to call her husband on July 24 after seeing on social media that there was a shooting in Harmony Twp. She said she knew that was the area her husband was in that day. When he wouldn’t answer, she knew something was wrong and called her father-in-law.

“There was never one time that he never picked up the phone to say ‘I’m good.’ That was our thing we agreed on from day one when he joined the department,” she said.

While Gene went to the scene, Tracy stayed at home and was accompanied by members of the Springfield Police Department.

“I tell you, it was the longest three hours of my life,” she described. “Just the waiting.”

Yates said a lot of what happened next is a blur, including being taken to the hospital. She remembers going in to see her husband, knowing he had not survived.

“To see my husband laying there like that was just traumatizing,” she said.

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Tracy and Matt graduated from the police academy together and while she knew early on it wasn’t the right path for her, Matt was very excited. Over the years, they would discuss other officer-involved shootings they’d see.

“I guess you never think it’ll hit home,” Yates said.

At that moment, she thought about their 13-year-old daughter back at home, who has shared an interest in joining law enforcement like her father.

“I just remember thinking, ‘How am I going to tell her?’” she said.

In the 23 days since the shooting happened, one thing Yates said she has not done is try to learn about the people her husband dealt with that day.

“I don’t care to know that right now because I want to remember the good memories of Matt and I feel like that would make me angry,” she told News Center 7.

One thing she has done is thank the fellow deputies and officers for their attempts to save her husband’s life.

“I know they worked very hard to save Matt and it was important to tell them ‘thank you,’” she said.

You can watch our full interview with Tracy Yates below:

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