Matthew Frank spent much of his time racing out to capture breaking news happening throughout San Luis Obispo County. But Frank, whom many in the community only knew as SLOStringer, caught the first-responder bug early in life, his father, Steven Frank, said.
When Matthew was a child, his father was a traffic engineer for San Luis Obispo County, and Matthew learned all he could about Caltrans codes.
“He read the California Vehicle Code cover to cover, and he learned everything he could about traffic engineering,” Steven Frank said.
Steven Frank, who has been a member of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Aero Squadron for 44 years, took his young son along to meetings and some of the group’s drills. At the time of his death, Matthew had an application in to join the group. He had even helped introduce the use of drone technology to the group.
“He just absorbed everything about traffic engineering and law enforcement, and from that he just learned everything on the internet,” Frank said. “He expanded his knowledge to include everything about the first responders, law enforcement and the medical people, and then he expanded that to include fire.”
Frank described Matthew, a 2005 graduate of San Luis Obispo High School, as “a brilliant boy,” a quick learner who absorbed all the knowledge he could.
“Matthew found a niche, a passion that people had for news, immediate news, about car wrecks, about driving under the influence, about fires, about floods,” Frank said. “He did all of this anonymously. He never looked for credit for what he was doing. He was insistent on being correct — he had a passion for being correct with all his information.”
The highlight of Matthew’s life, his father said, was covering the Chimney Fire last summer.
He was our only child. He was our everything. And we are in shock.
Steven Frank, Matthew Frank’s father
During the fire, Matthew heard from people who had been evacuated and had left things like their pets or prescription medications behind. Matthew, his father said, would use his credentials to get to those people’s houses and bring them their medication and take care of their pets.
“He was working 18 hours a day between Hearst Castle and what was going on at Nacimiento, but for two weeks he was in his heyday,” Steven Frank said.
Additionally, Matthew Frank was passionate about getting people to not drink and drive, his father said. He said he never saw Matthew with a drink, ever.
“He would be up all night trying to videotape people getting arrested for driving under the influence and trying to get people not to do it,” he said. And Matthew, who was well-known by the county’s law enforcement community, could be counted on to help them.
“He would go to a wreck, a fatal wreck. He would take a thousand photographs, and he would give the chip to the officer, and the officer would have all the information he could imagine,” Steven Frank said.
Matthew had just turned 30 on March 6, his father said. In addition to being SLOStringer, he also owned SikMoto, a motorcycle shop in San Luis Obispo.
Matthew attended Cuesta College and studied business administration. But his passion was always with law enforcement and first responders.
“He was doing what he loved doing, at 3 in the morning, going to take pictures of a fire in Atascadero,” his father said.
“He was our only child. He was our everything. And we are in shock.”