District 882 employee Matthew Barthel remembered by work administrators

District 882 information technology employee Matthew Barthel was remembered as a respectful and insightful problem-solver this week by administrators in his most recent places of employment.

Barthel, 33, Big Lake, was killed Wednesday morning when another Big Lake resident drove through a red light and caused a crash on Highway 10 at Sherburne County Road 17 and County Road 81 in Big Lake Township.

Matthew Daniel Barthel
Matthew Daniel Barthel

Minnesota State Patrol stated the vehicle Barthel was driving was traveling southbound on Sherburne County Road 81 and was crossing Highway 10 with a green light when it was hit by a westbound Jeep driven by 35-year-old Juan Carlos Garcia Morales, who suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Barthel’s Mazada then struck another vehicle, a Toyota driven by Jeffery James Mateyka, 47, also of Big Lake. According to the State Patrol, the Toyota was stopped in the right lane of eastbound Highway 10 when the crash occurred. Mateyka was not injured as a result of the crash.

Monticello District 882 Superintendent Jim Johnson said eariler this week that Barthel began working in the district in 2013. “We have a small information technology (IT) department,” Johnson said. “We have five people in that department. They are all really close.”

Johnson said Barthel played a number of different roles as an IT specialist and had become the voice of the district’s help desk. “If you would call, about 90 percent of the time, he was the voice that you got.” Johnson said.

According to Johnson, Barthel also played a critical role in Monticello Middle School students receiving an important and powerful digital device last fall when they headed back to school.

District 882 is distributing new Chromebooks to students in grade six through 12 over the next two years. The initiative allows each student to have a device as a learning tool. The program gives teachers and students the opportunity to work in a blended learning environment using textbook and digital materials, explained Sue Heidt, district’s director of technology.

“Matt had the ability to listen to people and he had the ability to calm people down if they were frustrated by technology. He was the perfect person for that role,” Johnson said, adding Barthel was a problem solver, was great with people, and had really found his niche working in education after leaving the Wright County Sheriff’s Office, where he was employed as a deputy.

“He was hired in 2006 as a deputy sheriff,” said Capt. Dan Anselment. “He spent about a year-and-a-half as a patrol deputy, then was assigned to court security until about 2012. He then resigned to take a job in private industry.”

Anselment recalled Barthel as “very respectful” and the kind of person a person needed law enforcement assistance would want to show up at the front door to listen to concerns and complaints.

“Matt still worked with the communities where we provide law enforcement service; some of our deputies stayed in contact with him. He grew up in St. Michael-Albertville, so he didn’t land far from home. That’s where I grew up, and Sheriff Joe Hagerty grew up. Matt Barthel was a very likelable person and he did a fabulous job for us,” Anselment said.

A gofundme.com page has been set up by Barthel’s wife, Sara, and their two very young children. Information posted on the online site stated that Sara recently returned to work from maternity leave and is out of paid work leave.

All donations to this fundraising account will go directly to Sara for immediate expenses and on-going care of the the couple’s two children. In addition to this gofundme account, there has been an account set up at First American Bank in St. Michael called the “Matthew Daniel Barthel Benefit.”

Those wishing to contribute to this account can go to the bank in person and make a donation or mail a check direclty to First American Bank, 12725 43rd St. N.E., St. Michael, MN 55376.