DALLAS The wife of a Balch Springs police officer saidshe is thankful for prayers and messages of condolence the family has received since the death of her husband, Matthew Garcia, 35.

Garcia died in a motorcycle crash after the Kaufman couple left a Christmas party early Sunday morning.

Dallas police spokesman Sgt. Warren Mitchell said the wreck happened around 1 a.m. on a ramp from Cesar Chavez Boulevard to the eastbound lanes of Interstate 30.

Mitchell said Garcia failed to negotiate a curve and was ejected from the bike. He fell over a railing some 50 feet to the highway below.

The officer's wife, Toni Johnson Garcia, was following along in a car and witnessed the crash. She called 911 for help.

Garcia was rushed to nearby Baylor University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead about 30 minutes later, Mitchell said.

Garcia served in the Army from 1994 until 2001. He was a four-year veteran of the Balch Springs department. Garcia and his wife married in 2008.

He was a wonderful step father to our son Mark and husband that was beyond reproach, Toni Garcia told News 8.

Flags were lowered to half-staff at the Balch Springs Police Department and members of the community began bringing donations for the family through the department.

To his neighbors in Kaufman, Matthew Garcia was more than a friendly face. He was just a warm, very caring person, said Mae Muniz. You just felt it, you know, when you were around him.

Garcia and his wife Toni, a police officer in another county, were well known in their tight-knit community. Wanda Keller said Garcia was very nice and very helpful.

You just felt safe, because you had two police officers living below you, she said.

Muniz and Keller, who are sisters, were stunned to hear the news of Garcia's death. It's just like part of your family is gone.

Messages of condolence filled the Balch Springs Police Department's Facebook page. Closer to home, neighbors are praying for the family members Garcia leaves behind.

I wish peace, the path of all understanding, and for God to lift them up.

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