Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Law enforcement visit is a parent’s worst nightmare

By John Groves
A call late at night or in the early morning hours most of the time is not good news. Anytime a law enforcement officer visits your home unexpectedly, it's normally not good news either. 
On March 11, 2011, at 10:30 p.m. at night, we got one of those visits.  When I invited the officers in, I asked them, “this isn’t good, is it?”  They were there to inform us our son, Matt Groves, had just been killed by a drunk driver. 
There is no way to prepare yourself for news like this. This is a parent’s worst nightmare. Matt was only 21 years old, he just had his birthday three weeks before he was killed.  Matt was a kind, fun loving young man who was always willing to help anyone that needed it. The night he was killed, the officers told us that Matt and his friend, Teddy Martin, were helping someone in need. A young woman, Alicia Allen, was on her way home from work.  Her car had run out of gas, and they were trying to help her get it off the road and to a safe place.
While they were pushing the car, a drunk driver hit them from behind. The impact killed Matt and severely injured Teddy. If Teddy had been just one step further to the left, he very well could have joined Matt as a fatality.
Matt was always willing to help anyone who needed it.  Matt was a true Christian - he attended The First Christian Church in Leavenworth and he was the sound board operator for the late service at our church. Matt was also a deacon in our church.  He was one of the youngest deacons ever elected.  He not only helped with the services and music at his home church, he helped at another church down the street, New Hope Assembly of God, where he had made friends. They had a group of young people that formed a very close relationship.  Matt played bass guitar there and helped with the youth services on Wednesday night.  This church was also devastated about Matt’s death. The youth minister and one other member of that church visited us the day after the crash and volunteered to be pallbearers at his funeral.
We always knew that Matt had friends, however the day of his visitation and funeral we found out that Matt had hundreds of friends.  It was standing room only in the church the day of his funeral.  Matt loved life and enjoyed it fully in the time he was on this Earth. He was becoming quite a man, loved by everyone. Matt had no enemies. We WILL go forward, but with heavy hearts because a piece of our family has been taken from us.
There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about my son Matt.  I think, "where would he be today if he was still here?”  Would he be a 911 Dispatcher? He had taken the test but only missed passing by a few points. The people told him not to give up, to come back and take the test again in three months, because he scored higher than half the applicants.  Would he be a father, would he be a minister, a member of the military, who knows, he always wanted to lend a helping hand to people.
I’ll close with this - the person who is going to jail for a DUI eventually gets to come home. The victim’s family is the one who serves the LIFE sentence.

John Groves and his wife, Teresa, advocate for strict DUI enforcement and are from Leavenworth.


  1. I am so sorry for your loss and thanks for sharing your tragic story. Impaired driving is not an accident, it is a choice, make the right choice and never drive impaired.

  2. I can't imagine going through this, how awful. But thank you for your efforts to help stop this from happening to other families.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm so sorry for your loss

  4. Thank you for sharing your story and working to end drunk driving. Your son was an amazing man and a true hero. Together we can end drunk driving.

  5. This is one of those cases of “only the good die young.” Trying to make sense of it and get some meaning is hard when it is so senseless, but let’s try! Don’t drink and drive, there are many scenarios, none are good but killing someone and going to jail should definitely be something to heed. Also, when out of your car on the highway, make sure you are seen but don’t assume that you are. With drinking and driving; texting and driving; tired and driving; and so on it is a bigger risk than you may think. Be mindful of your safety as there are other who may be near you who are not.