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MATTHEW COX VIGIL: 'I know he's up in heaven'

Destin Log - 11/9/2018

Nov. 06--If you asked the workers in the Destin Commons about Matthew Cox, they would all say the same thing. He was funny, loved to help and always had a smile on his face.

"He will always be in our hearts," said a co-worker of Matthew's father, who Matthew would call "Mr. Dave."

The son of Bass Pro Shops General Manager Ryan Cox, Matthew was severely autistic and was living in a group home in Mobile. His caregiver, Trent Yates, has been charged with murder after Matthew was killed on Oct. 27.

On Friday, Nov. 2, Destin Commons held a candlelight vigil in honor of Matthew's memory.

Co-workers, old teachers and friends of Matthew and his family gathered on the beach behind the Crab Trap in Destin to share stories and celebrate Matthew's life.

"Anyone that knew Matt, knew he loved to talk," one of his former teachers from Silver Sands School said as she stood in front of a large picture of a smiling Matthew.

She recalled a time Matthew had come to school after Thanksgiving break and told her he had played the quiet game and lost. "He was very fun-loving and a very happy kid."

Mr. Dave told about a time he took Ryan and Matthew hiking on the Eglin Weaver Creek section of the Florida National Trail. To keep Matthew focused and entertained, Dave told Matthew to look for the trailblazers that mark the trail. "There's another blaze Mr. Dave," Matthew would say as he would find the orange marks.

"I will never look at blazers the same way again," Dave said. "I'll think about Matthew and I'll hear his voice and know he's guiding me down the right path. Next time I get on Weaver, I'm gonna dedicate that hike to Matthew."

Matthew had become part of the Bass Pro family.

"Matthew grew up in our store," said Diane Heil, the Senior HR Manager for Bass Pro. "He would come in with Ryan after school and we all helped take care of him. We would ride the train together, dance in the office, whatever he wanted to do. He's a part of our family at Bass Pro."

Jon Williams, principal at Silver Sands School, read a letter from Jana Lou Mills, who was one of Matthew's teachers. Mills said Matthew would never let anyone have a bad day and was always the first one at your side, attempting to make you laugh.

"I was only the principal for a short time while Matthew was there, but he was such a joy," Williams said. "He was the most positive and uplifting person."

"I know he's up in heaven," another Silver Sands teacher said.

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(c)2018 The Destin Log (Destin, Fla.)

Visit The Destin Log (Destin, Fla.) at www.destin.com

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