On Feb. 27, 2016 Bubba Mathes was one of two victims killed in a horrific car crash in Pierce County. He’d been at a party with friends and after posting a video of his fun night out, 39 minutes later he was riding in Dennis Mouth’s Lexus when Mouth crashed his car trying to exit I-5 to Port of Tacoma.
“When it hit the gore point, it lost control, rotated clockwise and struck a utility pole,” said Trooper Brooke Bova.
Bubba and his friend in the backseat never had a chance, even though both were wearing seatbelts. Troopers say Mouth was drunk. Mouth was seriously injured and spent months in the hospital and when he got out, he didn’t show up for court.
“There’s a warrant out for his arrest for two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of vehicular assault,” according to Bova.
Bubba was Robert and Molly Mathes’ only son.
“I can feel him around me every day,” Bubba’s dad said. “The only thing I could think of was what was going through my son’s head when it was all happening at that moment. "
His son’s grave is just half a mile from the home where he grew up in Roslyn. This was where his family spent Bubba’s 20th birthday. They leave a candle lit so that Bubba knows his way home.
“I come out here to see him every day,” Robert Mathes said at his son’s graveside in the snow-covered cemetery. “This is what I go through every day. My heart and soul are gone.”
Bubba’s loved ones remember him lovingly as a cheerful young man who loved to dance and make short music videos – brief glimpses into a happy life that brings his parents some small comfort, as does his decision to be an organ donor.
“He gave eyesight to a 40-year-old woman and eyesight to a 28-year-old man,” his dad said proudly.
Still, none of this seems real. Robert and his family just want Mouth to turn himself in.
“I understand that none of this was meant to happen, but it happened,” Robert said. “People making wrong decisions to do what they did that night. It’s time to own up, get it done an take what’s coming to you.”
They also hope that by sharing their story, it will save other lives. Bubba’s resting place is a beautiful yet stark reminder that drinking and driving kills.
Robert Mathes said to his deceased son, “I’ve just gone ahead of you. I’ll see you when you get there.” He then offered this prayer: “Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there. I do not sleep. I am in the thousands winds that blow, I am in the fallen snow. I am the star shine at night, I am the flowers that bloom, I am in a quiet room. I am in the birds that sing, I am in each lovely thing. Do not stand at my grave in bereft. I am not there. I have not left.”
Crime Stoppers of Tacoma-Pierce County is offering a $1,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest in the case. If you can help get justice for Bubba and his family, call the hotline at 1 (800) 222-TIPS. All calls are anonymous.