A woman was under the influence of methamphetamine and driving a stolen SUV when she ran a red light and triggered a collision that killed a Clovis man Thursday morning in northeast Fresno, police say.
Matthew Harkenrider, 26, was on his way to work at Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno, where he was a radiology technologist. He died at the scene.
Harkenrider grew up in Oakhurst and was a former star baseball catcher and football quarterback at Yosemite High School, graduating in 2007. He was married in March 2013 and recently moved his family into a new home.
John Scott, Harkenrider's longtime friend and teammate, said he was a tremendous athlete and a devoted husband and father to Natalie, his daughter from a previous relationship.
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"He spent so much time with his daughter and his new wife," Scott said. "They really were his number one concern."
Later in the evening, Harkenrider’s wife, Megan, posted on her Facebook page that she was pregnant.
Police say Harkenrider was westbound on Herndon Avenue at 6:55 a.m. in his Mazda when the crash happened. Sgt. Richard Tucker said a Fresno officer saw the northbound Kia Sorento driven by Roberta Lynn Soto, 45, run the red light at Fresno Street.
The impact sent both vehicles into three other vehicles that were stopped in the southbound lanes of Fresno Street. A total of six people, including Soto, were taken to the hospital.
She faces charges of felony vehicular manslaughter, driving a stolen vehicle, felony driving under the influence and possession of methamphetamine, Tucker said. Her driver's license was suspended in 2012, he said.
Soto suffered several broken bones, including a fractured femur. She was taken to Community Regional Medical Center for treatment of injuries.
Tucker said a nurse there had difficulty persuading Soto to open her fist so an IV could be administered. The nurse and an officer who was present discovered Soto was clenching a bindle of meth in her hand. Tucker described the crash as "an absolute tragedy."
"Our hearts and prayers go out" to Harkenrider's family, Tucker said. "I can only imagine what they are going through."
Scott, Harkenrider's longtime friend, said Harkenrider was loyal, honest and a dependable rock who always kept the team together. He said they played football and baseball together at Yosemite High and also participated in a Sunday baseball league in Fresno.
"He would always pump us up whenever we were in a tough spot during a game," Scott said. "Everyone could really count on him, and he made you want to work harder to reach his level."
Sam Duvall, a teammate of Harkenrider and Scott, said Harkenrider was an amazing person who always made him feel better about himself no matter what they were doing.
Duvall recalled that Harkenrider, who was a naturally right-handed catcher, would fire the ball into second base with his left hand just for fun. "He threw harder with his other arm than I could with my good arm," Duvall said.
In a statement issued by Community Regional Medical Center, hospital CEO Craig Wagoner said "Matthew's coworkers said everyone in Radiology wanted him to be part of their team. Matthew was one of those rare individuals with the potential to be successful at anything he desired. His focus was on his family and friends ... he will be terribly missed by all."
In addition to his wife, Harkenrider is survived by daughter Natalie, parents Jeff and Doreen Harkenrider, twin brother Eric and older brother Adam.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Matthew Harkenrider's work title as radiology technician.