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Friday, March 31, 2023
Hit-and-run victim Matthew Wilson was lifelong NOTLer
Matthew Wilson died after he was struck by Robert Enns' pickup truck as he walked along Lakeshore Road. SUPPLIED

A 40-year-old man who was killed in a hit-and-run on Lakeshore Road Sunday night was a lifelong NOTL resident with a passion for sports.

Niagara Regional Police said they have identified the driver of a Ford F-150 pickup truck who was eastbound on Lakeshore near McNab Road when Matthew Wilson was struck. No charges had been announced as of Wednesday.

Wilson grew up in Niagara-on-the-Lake, attending Virgil Public School and Niagara District Secondary.

His mother Colleen Franz said Wilson, who was walking home to Virgil from St. Catharines when he was hit, will be remembered fondly for his eagerness to help his family, his love of animals and his many talents.

Growing up, Wilson was all about sports. Like many NOTL kids, he played hockey for the Wolves and then made his way onto the travel teams.

“He played soccer, he played street hockey, ice hockey, he played lacrosse, he was very sports-oriented,” she said.

He also had a fondness for the arts, playing and writing music, doing graphic design and photography. 

He studied computer science at Brock University for computer science and photography at Niagara College.

Growing up was tough on Wilson, his mom remembers.

“Matthew kind of walked a different path than other people. He was kind of like the one that didn't fit in, but tried so hard to fit in,” she said.

“He wasn't perfect, he had made a lot of mistakes in his life, but he made sure he corrected them.”

She said he had a “soft spot for the underdogs” because of his experiences.

“He never had much money (but) he would stop and buy a Hot-N-Ready pizza and take it to the homeless down in the St. Paul Street-Queenston area” of St. Catharines.

She said despite his troubles, he was smart, talented and cared deeply for his family.

He took care of his 99- and 101-year-old aunts, driving them to appointments, cooking and doing yard work for them, Franz said.

“He has a niece and nephew that think the world of him, because he could go down to the younger level, you know, and talk and play and he could be very silly at times and very fun-loving,” she said.

Wilson was close with his mother, who said she chose his biblical name because he was her “gift from God.”

She said she had three surgeries and took fertility pills to be able to have him.

Her son taught her a lot, she said.

“Honestly, I'm the mother, and I'm supposed to be the teacher. He's taught me more than anybody could ever teach me,” she said.

“He was very interesting, he knew a little bit about everything, he was so interesting to talk to. I considered myself pretty intelligent, smart until I met my son Matthew. He was very, very intelligent.”

She said he was always there to help when she needed it.

“Anywhere you needed help, he was there.”

“He was non-judgmental, he was kind, he was giving, he was caring. Of course, every mother's gonna say this about her son,” she said.

Since he died, she said she's received messages and calls from people, many of whom she doesn't know, who are sharing stories about him.

“They've all said that Matthew made a difference in their lives. One girl especially said Matthew saved her life because he took the time to care and to talk to her and to help her.”

Wilson had recently moved back in with his mom on Homestead Drive in Virgil after COVID-19 closures cost him his job at Dragonfly Nightclub in Niagara Falls.

Franz said police suspect he was struck around 11 p.m.

His body wasn't found until around 7:15 the next morning. He was face down in a ditch.

Franz said the family hasn't come to terms with their loss yet.

“We are totally in shock. I feel broken, devastated. I can't believe that he's gone.”

She said she can't understand why whoever hit him didn't stop and call 911.

“He never checked to see if Matthew was still alive. He could have been alive and saved. And that's really bothering me,” she said.

She said police have the Ford F-150 truck that hit him and are trying to match pieces of the truck found on the road where the collision occurred.

“So if there's pieces on the road, they hit him pretty hard. (The driver) must have felt the impact. He knew he hit someone.”

She said she'd like to ask the driver one question: “Why didn't you stop?”

Meanwhile, Franz said she's been receiving a lot of support from people in the community.

“People I don't even know in the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake are sending condolences. They're sending hugs and love and flowers,” she said.

“Our little town is getting a lot bigger, but I think the heart and soul of the people in Niagara-on-the-Lake are fabulous.”

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