Family wants law strengthened after son killed by runaway utility trailer

VIDEO: Family wants change after son killed by runaway utility trailer

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCSC) - This Christmas will mark the first without the Hayes’ loved one. Corey Hayes, 24, died in a crash along US 701 in Georgetown on June 17.

“It’s just been a terrible, terrible tragedy,” Corey’s father, Thad, said. “Just destroyed our family.”

According to South Carolina Highway Patrol’s Multi-Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team, Corey was killed after a utility trailer and lawnmower came loose from a passing truck and struck his motorcycle. Investigators determined that the tongue of the utility trailer detached from the receiver hitch ball on the truck.

“You just don’t know how someone could even pull [utility trailer] down the road,” Thad said. “No safety chain. Trailer is just in bad shape all the way around. Not loaded correctly, not tied down like it should be. Just pure negligence.”

The driver of the truck left the scene of the crash. Earl Fred Walker was arrested two days later and charged with hit-and-run, among other charges. The charge of “improper towing of a vehicle” was a $250 fine.

The family now wants to strengthen state law regarding utility trailers.

“We never want to see anyone have to go through that. It’s senseless,” Thad said. “To lose a child, to lose anybody to that. It never had to happen.”

Their suggested law would require drivers to use two safety chains when towing a utility trailer. Violators could face hundreds of dollars in fines and jailtime.

According to data from the US Department of Transportation, 2,097 people died in crashes involving a trailing unit, like a utility trailer, from 2014 to 2018. In 36 wrecks, investigators determined that the trailer hitch was defective or improperly attached.

Walker is currently in the Georgetown County Jail awaiting trial.

Copyright 2020 WCSC. All rights reserved.