Thursday, October 29, 2009

Unhooked trailer kills oncoming driver

Unhooked trailer kills oncoming driver

Crash happened around 9:30 a.m.

Updated: Wednesday, 28 Oct 2009, 6:24 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 28 Oct 2009, 11:01 AM EDT

CANNON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - A trailer came unhooked from a van and flew into the windshield of an oncoming vehicle, killing that driver Wednesday morning.

The accident happened at 10 Mile Road and Je Ne Be in northern Kent County. The trailer was attached to a van headed east, but came unhooked. It flew over one westbound vehicle but hit the following car's windshield.

The driver was killed and the passenger suffered minor injuries.

Deputies told 24 Hour News 8 the homemade trailer was hauling salvage metals.

At this writing, no tickets have been issued, but police continue their investigation. Police say there are two possibilities: mechanical failure or negligence. If it's mechanical failure, there would be no charges. If negligence is involved, charges could follow.

Early indications are the steel pin that holds the ball mount to the van's hitch somehow came loose, allowing the trailer to break free.

"At this point, we can't find the pin," said Sgt. Steve Dabkowski of the Kent County Sheriff's Department. "He wouldn't have been able to pull the trailer if the pin wasn't in, so he had to start off with the pin in there and it somehow, it looks like the pin probably fell off somehow."

The owner of Hitches by George, Jim Peterman, told 24 Hour News 8 he's heard of only three hitches like this coming loose in his 40 years in the business, and none of them led to injuries.

The likely culprit, he said, is the clip that holds the pin in place.

"The clip has to come off the pin first and then the pin has to work out of the trailer," Peterman said.

Even without a pin, safety chains should have prevented the accident, Peterman said. They are required by state law. "Safety chains should have kept the trailer behind the vehicle, and not let it go airborne."

Investigators are trying to determine if safety chains were used and attached properly.

24 Hour News 8 will continue to follow this story.

Daph4444 56p

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Daph4444 56p · 1 day ago

CANNON TWP., Mich. - Kent County Sheriff's Deputies are on the scene of a fatal accident in northern Kent County.

The three-car crash happened at the corner of 10 Mile Road and Brower around 9:30 Wednesday morning.

A van pulling a snowmobile-type trailer was heading eastbound on 10 Mile Road when the trailer disconnected while on a hill. The trailer flew over a car and landed on another vehicle heading westbound. The driver of that vehicle was killed and a passenger was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The driver of the van was uninjured.

10 Mile Road is closed between Je-ne-be and Brower and will be until about noon.
1 reply · active 22 hours ago
where were the safety chains???
4 replies · active 19 hours ago
Oh, my God! How horrible. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased driver.
This is very sad! My prayers also for the passenger and the Family!
I am ALWAYS afraid of this happening whenever I am travelling behind a trailer or someone carrying lumber out the back ot their truck. My prayers are with the family of the deceased.

Safety chains must be used, this is the trailer drivers fault 100%.
9 replies · active 21 hours ago
1-7/8" ball, 2" ball...what's the difference.
Some people are idiots when it comes to that. So sad.
it flew OVER a car?!
1 reply · active 20 hours ago
Every time I end up behind a trailer of ANY kind, I wonder if it's going to come loose. Needless to say, I try not to stay behind one for long.
Prayers to the family of the victim. How sad.
2 replies · active 20 hours ago
Tragic, tragic, tragic. I feel for the driver's family, getting that visit, that phone call...hugs to everyone.
the pictures of the trailer tell a lot. the state of michigan lets you wander into the dmv with a list of things you used to MAKE the trailer, then they actually give you a title and a plate for it without EVER inspecting it. as tragic and horrible as this incident is, im actually suprised it doesnt hapen more often. i see trailers on the road that i wouldnt feel safe pulling around my lawn!
Who thinks the van driver isn't going to get charged? Of coarse the van driver is negligent. What's too bad is that this could have been prevented with a little dash of common sense from the van driver. Incorrect ball size, the lack of safety chains, and the lack of a locking hitch are all possible contributers to this. I wonder if WOOD will let us know if this driver had insurance. If the van driver did have some insurance, there may be some financial relief for the family of this victim.
with proper chains, very unlikely, and the police would know that on scene.
Looks like a POS trailer!
This is so horrible. The person towing the trailor probably feels terrible whether they are at fault ot not and the loss of life is just tragic. My condolences to the family. To those who were posting about "being there or not being there", this does not seem like the appropriate place for silly, mindless bantering and before you tell me to lighten up keep in mind the seriousness of this situation.
1 reply · active 22 hours ago
It is disturbing that people who hook up trailers without chains think that the ball and hitch will stay put. Sorry, it doesn't work that way. The owner of the trailer is definitely responsible for the damage and killing. I do hope there was insurance but that isn't going to remove the stupidity of this driver. A person is dead because of irresponsibility, period!
"It flew over one westbound vehicle but hit the following car's windshield"
It flew? and flew over a vehicle? On 10 mile. Must have been going pretty fast to do that unless it was made out of tin foil. Most trailers in tow I see are passing me,and I'm a fast driver. They travel too fast. So do I.

If you want to see crazy trailer people with crazy trailers,go to Flowerland on Alpine during the start of the wood chip season. "Being There"... Peter Sellers.
Everybody is right about safety chains. I had a 2200 LB - 19 foot boat I was towing come loose at the hitch. Crossed safety chains, no harm, no foul.

My prayers to the family.
The driver that was killed was my maid of honor in my wedding 2 years ago. We have been estranged for a while and my heart just breaks for her children, grandchildren and her parents. Having been in a near fatal car wreck 5 years ago, my heart just aches for the family. I just wish I could go back and change things with Toni. My prayers and sympathies are abundant.
SENSELESS NEGLIGENCE. Send it to the county prosecutor and hopefully harsh charges will follow.
From someone who's towed a trailer before, never follow no matter how secure it looks! It doesn't matter how well you've prepared, every once in awhile something is going to get loose. Sadly the way you learn is by making mistakes, fortunately I've never killed anyone, but then I've never used a trailer without chains (if that is the case). I have lost a tail gate and other odds and ends.
2 replies · active 9 hours ago
My prayers go out to the family of the deceased and the driver and family of the trailer! It says the driver of the van was uninjured physically, but I am sure this person emotionally is at ends! It does not matter whether it was this persons fault or not, you do not get over taking someones life! Even IF it was this person fault, I am sure this person did not set out to do wrong!
Its a unfortunate issue , however a Homemade trailer my dad even made one years ago, and had all the legal plates, lights and saftey chains, and the right trailer ball was on there. and he made absolutely sure of everything, the tires were regular car tires 14 inch I think, and the axel assembly was a car or truck . had 2 inch wooden box and a very heavy made frame. used it to haul things including scrap iron and it was made to carry a boat when you removed the 1 inch thick bolt , the box had to be lifted off the frame and took 2 people to lift it. today I do not know whatever happened to it. My dad bought the roof carriers to reduce bridge costs going over the Mackinaw Bridge & Soo Bridge ( they charge by the axel BTW ) . Also If there is enough evidence thats the PA's job not the public. A attorney I knew stated like a chair 4 legs to stand on if there is enough evidence , otherwise it will not stand.
Freak accident.
Not a freak accident at all. Negligence. The person towing the trailer should get a lot of time in prison to think about safety chains.
1 reply · active 15 hours ago
Please... I do have NATIONAL NUMBERS FOR YOU...!! Please go to First of all...we do NOT HAVE A STANDARD FOR THESE HITCHES...!!!! Anybody can build one... Second...NO training is required before you can tow!!!!! Safety Chains do not always work... you know why!! NO STANDARD.... you can use a bicycle chain... Look at the condition of the trailer.... is it really roadworthy?

This life was lost because of NO STANDARDS... Safety chains most often break anyhow....

This life was lost due to a complete breakdown of law enforcement, breakdown of our Federal and State Government to improve this class of vehicle.

It is companies like U Haul,,, and Carry On trailers that has spent and out spent my organization at over $8.00 of Reflector Tape in Virginia... the only STATE to require it on these Black trailers that do not always have working lights.

Our organization has been trying to address this ongoing concern for almost seven years. I urge The Viewers of this Television Station to go to
and the next time they’re out and about, to take notice of the countless number of trailers being hauled daily on our roadways.

If they look closely, they’ll see many are improperly attached to the tow vehicle, don’t have working lights, safety chains and are unacceptably maintained.

They should then ask themselves: “Why am I riding behind or next to this person trying to kill or injure my family and me?”
1 reply · active 7 hours ago

RonMelancon 20p

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RonMelancon 20p · 8 hours ago

You want numbers... since 1975 over 15,211 lives have been lost due to "Passenger Cars That Tow Trailers"

Since 1988 over 735,256 things have been cars, trucks and homes

Since 1988 over 425,452 people injured....and our leaders do nothing.

Please see this Crash Team Report from the Virginia State Crash Team... and Our Governor Tim Kaine does nothing.... I have given his office this report and video's just like the one on this page and nothing..

USA Today was going to do a story on this last week... but we believe they got a phone call from the Government not to run the story.

Why....??? Who is behind the total lack of any standard for these types of vehicles?
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RonMelancon 20p · 8 hours ago

When you are behind these trailers... get out of the way..

Look at these E Mails I have received..

Hi Ron-Wanted to write to you and say thanks for your care and concern over the recent death of my son. I am having a very hard time right now as you can imagine. He was my youngest and I miss him so much. I cry every day . I am crying now as I write this to you. I cannot put into words the anger I feel now over this terrible tragedy. I hope you and your organization can change the laws so this never has to happen to another family. Thank you for taking time for me.


Even the PA for Nicholas Cage was killed in Hawaii last month ... His name was Michael Davidson..
Go here ... Hawaii has no SAFETY CHAINS Laws... 8 States do not have this requirement...

362 lives in Michigan have been lost since "Passenger Cars That Tow Trailers" and a sad fact we can add one more...

363 lives have been lost!! What is the state of Michigan going to do now?

And here is what a Virginia State Trooper E Mailed me about Caitlyn Johnson who lost her life last month in Virginia... Her Daughter 8 months survived....

It is the same all over the United States...

I'm just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your passion involving these trailers. On a weekly basis I issue summons to operators of these types of vehicles to include dead inspections, no state inspections, no break away brake cable, no safety chains and other related violations. I make an effort to check every 2 axle trailer I pass during my routine patrol duties when I have free time. Some of us do take these matters very seriously. I have even spoken to the assistant manager at my local Home Depot reference them complying with state law and inspecting their rental trailers. I've noticed that some of them now have inspections and I will be checking them again soon, this time while on duty for a bigger impact. On a daily basis I look at the vehicle belonging to the young woman that was killed with her 8 month old child in the vehicle by an unsecured, poorly loaded 2 axle trailer. The vehicle is in the impound lot at our division headquarters. This keeps me motivated to enforce these laws, thanks for all your efforts.
This is a tragedy but might just be an accident. There are obviously chains on the trailer. I have never liked the way the chains just hook on most hitches, I alwasy wondered why they did not have a more secure latch type arrangement. Some of these homemade trailers are more s****y than ones you can buy. Furthermore it does not look like that had anything to do with this, it was the hitch that failed, not the trailer.
Ron, what a stupid cause to get behind.

"Since 1975 15,211 lives have been lost by "Passenger Cars That Tow Trailers." That stat doesn't even state that a trailer had anything to do with the accident. Furthermore, what is that 450 deaths a year?! DEAR GOD, why do we even allow trailers on the road!! Let alone cars!!

Deer cause around 150 deaths from fatal accidents a year. I think it is time to take a stand! Let's eliminate all deer. Now I am going to make a webpage and copy and paste comments on every article relating to deer accross the United States. No need to thank me people, even though the life I could be saving is yours...
Dear Gwarnab

Jury Awards Woman $8.6 Million Dollars Against The Manufacturer Of An Allegedly Defective Towing Coupler Manufactured By Dutton-Lainson Company of Hastings, Nebraska

A Missouri woman who sustained serious head injuries when a towing coupler came apart from a large homemade house trailer that crashed head on into her car successfully won $8.6 million dollars against the manufacturer of the towing coupler. The jury determined that the Dutton-Lainson Company of Hastings, Nebraska knew about the defect in the coupler but did not correct it or issue a warning about it. The victim sustained serious head injuries when the coupler came apart on Illinois Route 143 in April 1997. The significant $8.6 million dollar damage verdict was broken down as $5 million dollars in punitive damages against Dutton-Lainson, $3.6 million dollars in natural damages against the companies and firm whose employees were towing the trailer. Dutton-Lainson’s attorney stated that the company will make all attempts to reverse the verdict.

The defective trailer lawyers at the Philadelphia defective trailer accident law firm of Reiff and Bily have long warned that in many states, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, very minimal regulation exists with regard to trailers and their coupling devices. Many state laws, including Pennsylvania, are silent as to design or construction specifications for towed vehicles or for towing chains or hitches. All too often there are many safety violations and product defects that ultimately lead to catastrophic injuries and fatalities. There is no Federal law, national agency, or Pennsylvania law that requires reporting or regulation of defective trailer coupler accidents.

In the Dutton-Lainson case, information revealed that the manufacturer of the towing coupler was aware of at least 8 other accidents since 1978 where the coupler came apart, and further, an engineer recommended a study of the problem yet the company did nothing about it.
1 reply · active 1 hour ago
Please read this quote... true some lawyers are bad... but some are good.... some lawyers really do great work... otherwise we would be driving around with exploding child safety seats,,,, bumpers that do not work.... the Firestone 500 tire..... doctors that cut the wrong leg off.... doctors that remove the wrong item... and Airline Pilots that for some reason fly over 100 miles off course...... in the case at hand.. look at the trailer... is it in good working order...

Keep Lawyers out! They are worthless costing American's Millions. Oh! I spilled HOT coffee and got burned I was clumsy but someone else needs to pay. It is a fricken accident. Has anyone investigated the woman. Was she on the phon? Driving too close to the car in front of her if the trailer was still in the air after going over it then hit her? Was she talking to the passenger and not paying attention? Not driving defensively? Maybe she was negligent? It is stupid that there can not be just an accident! I feel bad for the family of the woman and I hope they do not take legal action due to that I don't think that the man was hoping for the trialer to come loose and kill someone. Can anyone spell ACCIDENT!
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