As It Happens

Man dies 24 hours after he pays for a stranger's groceries

Jamie-Lynne Knighten is asking people to "pay it forward" after a stranger named Matthew Jackson paid for her $200 grocery bill. Jackson, 28, was killed in a car crash the day after this encounter.
28-year-old Matthew Jackson died a day after he paid for a stranger's $200 bill at the grocery store. (Facebook/LeeAnn Johnson Krymow)

Jamie-Lynne Knighten is asking people to "pay it forward" after a stranger named Matthew Jackson paid for her $200 grocery bill. But, his good deed had a tragic ending. Less than 24 hours after they met she discovered later that he had died.

On Nov. 10, Knighten was shopping at a San Diego supermarket with her "over-tired" and "cranky" five-month-old baby. To make matters worse, when she tried to pay for her groceries at the local Trader Joe's, her Canadian credit card was declined.

"I swiped it, it declined. I swiped it again, it declined," Knighten tell As it Happens host Carol Off. "At this point I'm just trying to hold it together. The line is forming behind me and nothing's working."

(Facebook/Jamie-Lynne Knighten)

Knighten had just returned from a trip to see her family in her home province of Ontario. She figured her credit card was locked because of this.

"I was just about to ask the girls behind the checkout if they could hold my purchases. That's when Matthew said, 'May I?' I just kind of looked at him and said, 'May I What?' And he said, 'May I take care of your groceries?'"

At first Knighten declined the offer.

"I was taken aback. I said, 'That's so kind of you, but no thanks. This is a really large purchase.'"

But, Knighten soon realized that Jackson was serious.

"He said, 'Just do it for somebody else.' That's when it dawned on me that it was one of those pay it forward scenarios and that it would mean a lot to him if I accepted."

He was just somebody that I would have wanted to be friends with.- Jamie-Lynne Knighten

Knighten spoke with Jackson briefly after he paid for her $200 bill. He told her that he worked at a local gym.  

Around a week later, Knighten tried to track Jackson down. She called the gym where he worked. His boss started crying when she spoke to her on the phone. Jackson had been killed in a car accident on Nov 11. It was the day after their encounter at the grocery store.

"My heart just dropped," says Knighten. "I thought for sure that I would get a chance to see him again. Give him a hug. Say thank you. He was just somebody that I would have wanted to be friends with," says Knighten.

Jackson, 28, died when his car lost control and hit a tree. Two friends who were with him at the time survived the crash. 

Since the accident, Knighten has gotten in touch with Jackson's mother.

"She told me that he was a big sweetheart that was always doing things for other people. One thing she's really proud of is that he's a bear hugger. In every photo that you see of him with somebody, he doesn't just have one arm around them. He's giving them a huge bear hug. And that's what it felt like when he paid for my groceries and took care of me."

Knighten has also created a Facebook page called "Matthew's Legacy." On the page, Knighten is asking people to do good deeds for strangers.

"To see [Jackson's] legacy spread, that's something that I want my kids to be aware of. I want them to recognize that they can actively participate in making a positive change in the world like he did."

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