Japanese American UPS driver killed in West Sacramento

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A UPS employee was struck by a United Parcel Service of America big rig at approximately 9:15 p.m. Jan. 7 at the West Sacramento UPS distribution center on Shore Street.

The victim, identified as Kie Matsuda, was wedged in the wheels of the vehicle and rushed to the UC Davis Medical Center with significant injuries, West Sacramento Police Sgt. Roger Kinney said. Matsuda died at 1:38 a.m. Jan. 8.

The West Sacramento Traffic Unit and crime scene investigators were called to the scene following the incident and will submit their reports to the District Attorney’s office for review of any criminal elements that might be discovered, Kinney said. The UPS driver involved in the accident is cooperating with the investigation.

“There was nothing on scene that might indicate anything other than an accident,” Kinney said.

As of Jan. 14, no reports have been submitted to the DA’s office from the West Sacramento investigation units, Kinney said, and the investigation is ongoing.

The state Division of Occupational Safety and Health is conducting a separate investigation and will exchange reports with the West Sacramento Traffic Unit, Kinney said.

A 28-year UPS employee, Matsuda had been a member of the Florin Athletic Club for 31 years, the team’s pitcher and now coach, Jeff Enkoji said. Matsuda played opposite of Enkoji as a catcher.

Kenneth Fukumoto, designated hitter and an outfielder for the Lodi JACL Templars, said he had known Matsuda for 24 years. Fukumoto said Matsuda was “a great guy and a great baseball player” who was good at teaching the new 14- and 15-year-old members who joined the team.

“You would never know if he was in a bad mood,” Fukumoto added.

Fukumoto recalled many times when, as he would come up to bat, he could hear Matsuda say, “Oh God,” behind him, implying that Matsuda knew the pitcher would be throwing a tough pitch like a curve ball next. At baseball tournaments when multiple teams would stay in the same hotel, Fukumoto said Matsuda was often sought after to hang out with.

Matsuda carried his sense of humor to work as well, making many friends like Tracy Sakata, a full-time package car delivery driver at the UPS Cordova center. Sakata said he first met Matsuda when they were part-time employees at the West Sacramento UPS distribution center 26 years ago.

“I don’t recall how we first met but I know it was him that approached me because he was such a friendly person,” Sakata said. “Always smiling too.”

Sakata said he and Matsuda would occasionally have lunch together and they worked the same shift early in their career. Later, Matsuda moved on to become a big rig driver and Sakata eventually transferred to the UPS Cordova center.

One memory Sakata said he’ll always remember is how Matsuda had nicknames for people.

“He would always see me and say ‘Hey Tofuti’ and we would both put our hands together and bow,” Sakata said. “Even when we passed in our package cars we would both put our hands together and bow a little.”

The Kie Matsuda Memorial Fund on GoFundMe has raised $20,553 as of Jan. 19. It surpassed its $20,000 goal in only five days. The money will be used to help the family with medical costs, the funeral, cremation and coroner bills and other financial expenses, the family wrote.

Matsuda’s mother, who was severely impacted by the death of her only son, is at the hospital for an undetermined length of time, the family wrote on Jan. 11. The memorial fund also asks for support in his mother’s care.

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