'Next thing I know, I was shot': A trucker's story of survival

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Jerry Matson struggles to sleep through the night. Even the slightest of noise will prompt the longtime truck driver to become wide-eyed in his sleeper.

“If there’s any noise outside, I’m awake,” he said.

The reason for Matson’s anxiety is understandable. It was just a little more than a year ago when the OOIDA life member was shot while parked in his truck about a half-mile from the Oakland Coliseum.

Matson, of Auburn, Ind., was set to deliver a Caterpillar Entertainment Generator on Dec. 15, 2015. When he arrived at the stadium gate, Matson said multiple employees told him he wasn’t allowed to park in the stadium’s lot. Instead, he was instructed to park on the opposite side of Interstate 880. Last month, Matson filed a lawsuit against the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority for negligence in the shooting.

Around 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 15, 2015, Matson awoke to the sound of banging on the driver’s side door of his tractor and the window being smashed. Moments later, Matson was shot in the lower right abdomen by a .45 caliber firearm.

“I remember grabbing his hand,” Matson said. “The next thing I know, I was shot.”

The intruder, who has never been caught, fled the scene.

The last thing Matson said he remembered was telling the surgeon to wait until the morning to call his wife of 51 years, Janet. After that, he said he was in a “black out” for the next couple of months.

During this time, Matson endured multiple surgeries as a result of the wound and an infection. Doctors told Janet that the bullet was just a “hair” away from hitting a major artery.

“He doesn’t realize how close he was to death,” Janet said.

He was hospitalized in California for about two months before being able to travel back to Indiana. For the next six months or so, he received physical therapy twice a week.

With all of the time off the road and no paychecks rolling in, Matson said he was forced to lose both of his trucks.

“It really messed me up money-wise,” he said.

After making an agreement to drive his friend’s truck, the 73-year-old Matson is back behind the wheel.

“I was in the Marines, so don’t tell me there’s something I can’t do,” he said. “That’s been my attitude.”

However, Matson said he’s not as mobile as he was and that he isn’t capable of logging as many miles as he was in the past.

“He’s still weak,” Janet said. “He doesn’t have all of his strength back.”

Even so, Matson tries to maintain a positive attitude.

“I’m thankful to be alive,” he said. “I like being on the green side of the grass.”

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