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California man dies after paying stranger's $200 grocery bill, inspiring her to pay it forward

Matthew Jackson will never know all the good he inspired by helping one woman at a Trader Joe's last month.
/ Source: TODAY

Jamie-Lynne Knighten will never have the chance to tell Matthew Jackson how much his act of kindness meant to her because the day after their encounter, he passed away in a car accident.

When Knighten got to the checkout counter at her local Trader Joe's in Carlsbad, Calif., on Nov. 10, her credit card was declined. She just got back from visiting her family in Toronto and realized she still had an anti-fraud block on her card.

With her hysterical 5-month-old daughter, Wyatt, in her arms, she asked the grocery clerk if she could run home to get her other credit card.

Matthew Jackson and Jamie-Lynne Knighten with her 5-month-old daughter, WyattJamie-Lynne Knighten

That was when Matthew Jackson, 28, stepped in and offered to pay her $200 bill.

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"I couldn't believe that a complete stranger was paying for my groceries," Knighten, 29, told

Jackson did it out of the goodness of his heart, but wanted one thing in return.

"He made me promise to pay it forward," Knighten said.

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Before they parted ways, he mentioned that he worked at LA Fitness as a personal training director.

About a week after their encounter, Knighten called his manager, Angela Lavinder, to tell her how blown away she was by Jackson. That's when she learned the tragic news.

On November 11, Jackson was taking a coworker to Wal-Mart to get some transmission fluid when his car veered off the road and into a tree, killing him and injuring two of his coworkers who were in the car.

Knighten was shocked to hear what happened to the kind gentleman she'd met just days before.

She was also saddened to hear that she missed his memorial service, which was on Nov. 16, three days before her call.

"I could sense that he had a kind presence, but after talking to his family and friends, I found out just how big his heart was," Knighten said. "I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to meet him, but so sad that I won't get a chance to thank him again."

She has kept her promise to pay forward his favor.

Since the inspiring encounter, she's paid for three stranger's grocery bills. She's also in the process of setting up a GoFundMe to help Jackson's coworkers, whose injuries will prevent them from working for a few months.

"If I could thank Matt today, I'd thank him for reminding me that there's still a little bit of hope for humanity," Knighten said.