‘I wouldn’t wish this pain on anybody’: Deaf, autistic man struck, killed by car, family says

Deaf, autistic man Darius Matthews hit and killed by car in DeKalb County
Deaf, autistic man Darius Matthews hit and killed by car in DeKalb County(Cierra Matthews)
Published: Aug. 29, 2023 at 3:10 PM CDT
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ATLANTA (WANF/Gray News) - A disabled man in Georgia died Friday night after his family said he was struck by a car.

The family of 33-year-old Darius Matthews said he was killed after he was hit on Panthersville Road around 8:45 p.m.

Matthews’ mother, Shawanis Matthews, spoke with WANF and said he had autism and was also deaf.

“I’m going to have to bury my first-born son, and I wouldn’t wish this pain on anybody,” she said. “For the rest of our lives, the scene that we will always remember is showing up and just cutting through the police barriers and seeing my son on the ground with a sheet over him.”

Darius Matthews had wandered off from a residential care facility Friday night and was walking down the street in his pajamas, his mother said.

“This street has no sidewalks. This street has no street lights and no speed bumps, no nothing. If you go watch the street, and how fast the cars come down the street, my son was killed on impact,” Shawanis Matthews said.

Darius Matthews’ sister, Cierra Matthews, said he did not deserve what happened to him despite his disabilities.

“Just because he has autism, just because he’s deaf and appeared to be wandering in the street … he’s a person. He has feelings,” she said.

The DeKalb County Police Department said the driver who may have hit Darius Matthews was still at the scene when they arrived. However, the Matthews family said investigators told them a second car may have also been involved.

The family of Darius Matthews is now looking for justice, closure and better care for adults with special needs.

“Even though this is a tragedy, we want to influence proper care for people with disabilities and we just want to influence proper humanity. Accidents happen, but just stop and help somebody,” Cierra Matthews said.

Darius Matthews’ mother, brother and sister said he was a happy-go-lucky person who always had a smile on his face, and he loved magazines, soda, and his family.

The Matthews family did not identify the care facility that Darius wandered off from. They said they plan on pursuing legal action in the near future.

DeKalb police did not provide a statement on the possibility of a second driver to WANF. They also did not say anyone is facing charges at this time.

Authorities are continuing to investigate.