The axiom that most accidents happen close to home hit home for Elite Series angler Matt Arey.
After driving almost 1,000 miles without incident, Arey’s rig was damaged when a police cruiser hit him minutes from his destination. Arey had seen several police vehicles in pursuit cross his path. Moments later he was following cars through the intersection when the officer rammed into his boat.
“I’m good,” Arey said. “The truck held pretty true. I felt it. It jarred me. It knocked the front of the boat off the roller and bent the eye hook, the spare tire … trailer’s bent somewhat … knocked some holes in the fiberglass, big splits. I’m amazed it didn’t break the winch strap, but knocked it a foot off the roller.”
Arey had left Lake Fork on Sunday after finishing 19th in the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks & Wildlife. After stopping to sleep for seven hours, he was minutes from completing his 14-and-a-half-hour journey to get to his daughter Reese’s kindergarten play when the accident occurred.
“I just get clobbered,” Arey said. “It was a police officer in the chase, and he had made a U-turn and he didn’t stay in his lane. I was five miles from her school where it happened.”
Needless to say, he missed the play. A trooper wrote up the report and another officer followed Arey as he limped home. He’s waiting for police to get the report so an adjuster can come out for an insurance claim, but his Ranger will be out of service for next week’s Elite event on Fort Gibson in Oklahoma.
“I think a Ranger will float if you put 20 holes in it,” he said, “but I wouldn’t want to tow the boat more than 10 miles the way it’s sitting, let alone put it in the water.
“The first thing I’m thinking when it happened -- I got to leave Saturday to go to Fort Gipson.”
Within minutes of his wife, Emily, posting about the accident on social media, friends were asking how he was and if they could help. Among those checking on Arey were pro angling friends Andy Montgomery and former Elite Wesley Strader, who offered his boat from last year, and Scott Arms of Ranger Boats.
“The fishing community is a pretty tight knit group, needless to say. We’re all pretty close,” Arey said. “It’s been bad, but good. Coulda been a lot worse. Everything’s good. I’m kinda glad it happened in Shelby -- better than happening in Texas.”
Friends at Angler’s Choice Marine and RV are quickly preparing Arey a loaner.
“Trent, the general manager, is a good friend, and Sandy and Nick, the owners, have one they’re getting ready for me to pick up tomorrow,” he said. “Trent called this morning and said the boat I’m borrowing is (FLW pro) Bryan Thrift’s boat from last year.
“It’s funny. He lives 10 minutes from me and we do a talk show “Let’s Talk Fish Live.” Probably talk about it tonight. Trent said, ‘You know that boat’s got a tour win under its belt,’ so I’m going to rub all over that thing when I get to Gibson, get some good mojo.”