GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCSC) - The family of a 24-year-old man who was killed by a runaway utility trailer in Georgetown has filed a lawsuit against the driver and passenger of the vehicle involved in the incident.
Corey Hayes died in the crash on US 701 in Georgetown on June 17. The driver of the truck, identified as Earl Fred Walker, left the scene of the crash, according to authorities.
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. Walker is currently in the Georgetown County Jail awaiting trial.
Investigators with the South Carolina Highway Patrol said Corey was killed after a utility trailer and lawnmower came loose from a passing truck and struck his motorcycle. Investigators said they determined that the tongue of the utility trailer detached from the receiver hitch ball on the truck.
The driver of the truck, Walker, and the passenger of the vehicle, Tammy Lynn O’Shields, have been identified as defendants in the case.
According to the suit, both of the defendants were purchasing and reselling equipment, and were on a trip to Georgetown where they bought a lawnmower in Conway.
Lawyers said Walker and O’Shields failed to strap the lawnmower on the trailer which caused the mower to shift from the front of the trailer to the rear during its transport. In addition, the suit states the defendants failed to properly chain the trailer or trailer tongue to the truck, and were using an older trailer with a “dilapidated hitch that failed to securely fit around the ball.”
“As a result of these factors, the trailer became unhooked from the Defendant’s vehicle,” lawyers said.
According to court records, the trailer was propelled from the trailer and travelled toward the opposing lane of traffic on Highway 701 in which Hayes was traveling on his motorcycle. The trailer and the motorcycle then collided which resulted in Hayes’ death.
Live 5 News recently spoke to Hayes’ family who said they want to strengthen state laws regarding utility trailers.
“We never want to see anyone have to go through that. It’s senseless,” Corey’s father, 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.