Hitch pin likely came loose, causing fatal trailer-SUV crash, police said
October 28, 2009, 2:26PMUPDATE: Grattan Township woman victim of crash caused by runaway trailer
CANNON TOWNSHIP -- Police believe a metal pin holding a trailer hitch may have come loose or failed this morning on 10 Mile Road NE, causing a small trailer to let loose from a van and hit an oncoming SUV, killing a woman inside.
The driver of the SUV, identified by police as Toni Lynn Hall, 46, of Rockford, suffered a chest injury and died at the scene of the crash near Je-Ne-Be Drive NE after the trailer went airborne and hit the 2006 Mercury Mariner she was driving.
A woman passenger in the SUV, 39-year-old Debra Dianne Carter, was taken to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, Kent County sheriff's deputies said.
The trailer, hauled behind a full-size van going east on 10 Mile Road, was carrying what appeared to be scrap metal in the 9:24 a.m. crash. The van's driver, Thomas Edward Dells, 58, of Rockford, was not injured.
Police said the hitch bar that fits into the van's square towing mechanism came free. When the trailer went airborne, it lifted over a car following the van and hit the westbound Mariner's windshield, with the trailer's tongue going through the glass. The hitch bar was still attached to the tongue of the trailer.
The Mariner driver then lost control and the vehicle rolled several times before landing upright in the road's south ditch, Kent County Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Dabkowski said.
Debris from the trailer were strewn along the north side of the road.
Dabkowski said a report on the incident would be forwarded to the Kent County Prosecutor's Office to see if the van's driver, who was not injured, should face any charges or citations.Police said they did not find a license plate on the trailer, which appeared to be homemade.
This is a tragic accident. The driver of the van/trailer should definitely be sited. Even if the hitch failed, there are emergency precautions that should ALWAYS be followed. Furthermore, it is a law to have a license on trailers. The driver was negligent and tried to circumvent the law. And now, because of the driver's negligence a woman is dead. It could have been much, MUCH worse. An example should be made.
Toni was a friend of mine. She was the most genuine person I know. For all those who question my "much" worse statement... what if it would have hit both cars? What if it had killed both passengers? Forgive me if I misspelled a word or two. I was in shock.
I am not stupid. I have been licensed in driving very big machinery. I understand legalities and I understand "Safety Precautions". It may have been an accident. But, if negligence was indeed the case (and not following proper safety precautions is negligence), something should be done.