Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hitch pin likely came loose, causing fatal trailer-SUV crash, police said

Hitch pin likely came loose, causing fatal trailer-SUV crash, police said

By John Tunison | The Grand Rapids Press

October 28, 2009, 2:26PM
UPDATE: 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.

Posted by a.a.b.
October 28, 2009, 2:48PM

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.

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Posted by pedro441
October 28, 2009, 3:04PM

a.a.b: "It could have been much, MUCH worse"

A woman is dead, I'm not sure it gets much worse than that.

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Posted by oneputtkelly
October 28, 2009, 3:50PM

Heartbreaking. Simply heartbreaking...
My heart goes out to the family of the victim!
Yes the driver of the VAN towing the trailer better be prosecuted.
There are safety measures that would have prevented this.
Safety Chains, re-enforced safety pins, etc....
my guess is the VAN driver was speeding over those hills there near that intersection and paid no heed to safety or the lives of others with this "homemade trailer".
I hope it is investigated thoroughly, let the facts come out and then throw the book at this VAN driver! the famliy of the victim.....we are so sorry about your loss.

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Posted by ronmelancon
October 28, 2009, 4:59PM

Please.,,, Please,,,, this is just horrific..!!! Go to Our organization has been addressing the to lack of any standards on these trailers for 7 years. This accident did not have to happen!!!

The person who was towing a trailer that is obvious to any person as totally not worthy for the road.

The sad thing is the Sheriff department has nothing to charge him with except with a fine of under $100.00 and un secured load.

Your state has no inspections... no training on how to tow.... You do not even address "How to Tow" in your DMV manual.

In Ohio last month alone... a women was struck at her mail box by a LOOSE TRAILER...

A Father lost his life in Ohio by a loose did not have a license plate and the driver did not stop...NOBODY KNOWS WHO KILLED HIM...

why?? IT IS THE powerful Utility Trailer industry that has stop any efforts to improve this class of vehicle.

This life did not have to end this way!!!!!!! "Random Victim Of Negligence"

We were just published as a letter to the editor in Texas..

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Posted by jpatrix
October 28, 2009, 5:26PM

Lesson of the day. "Clamp down on trailer trash"

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Posted by Thinkaboutit
October 28, 2009, 5:42PM


Well I am not sure whether the driver of the van should be sited, but maybe cited? Furthermore, accidents do happen. This is very tragic, but your "sky is falling" attitude is a little much. Some how you draw the conclusion that the driver continually circumvents the law based on the trailer not having a license plate. Seriously, that is quite a jump!? I would also like you to explain how this could have been much worse. I mean hypotheticall I suppose this trailer could have kept rolling taken out a few school busses, ran over a a group of nuns crossing the street, and smushed a gathering of cute bunnies.

All being said, I feel terrible for everyone involved in this. The families of the deceased and the driver of the van. Clearly, none of this was intentional and it really is a shame.

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Posted by +openminded
October 28, 2009, 7:03PM

Several things need to be addressed in this very unfortunate incident.
1. If indeed the trailer was home-made then it needed some type of inspection to certify that it was roadworthy.
2. Were there safety chains employed?
3. Was the trailer licensed?
If no to any of these items the driver of the van should be facing criminal charges.
In my experience as custom trailer builder, hitch pins do not just fail unless a pin has been substituted of the incorrect diameter or material employed.
Someone's carelessness has caused the death of an innocent driver. At least that appears to be the case which is very saddening.

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Posted by ronmelancon
October 28, 2009, 7:03PM

Think about it....

Since 1975 15,211 lives have been lost by "Passenger Cars That Tow Trailers"

Since 1988 over 732,003 things like cars...vans,,and trailers destroyed..

Since 1988 over 435,154 people have been injured...

and we do nothing?

I find this unacceptable....

The van's driver is at fault... look at the condition of the trailer...

no plate..

no safety chains...

and he does not care about anybody's life who is behind him.

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Posted by craigyjoebob
October 28, 2009, 7:39PM

I am sorry for the loss of life. However your statement that 732003 vehicles were destroyed due too loose trailers, sounds like a great program like Cash For Clunkers, only without costing the government $3,000,000,000.00.

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October 28, 2009, 10:18PM

very tragic for all involved, unless you idiots know the whole story... not just
the inaccurate bs on the local tv stations then please keep your stupid judgeMENTAL opinions to yourself. it was an accident! the driver is an incredible individual - selfless - in turmoil over this - would give you the shirt off his back - broken.......

you are all so wise and brave offering your ignorant opinions for the world to read as you sit hidden behind your computers in your underwear.... you fools.

accidents happen. horrible accidents that leave so many people asking why. i'm asking why in this case. innocence . . . . . . for all involved.

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Posted by a.a.b.
October 28, 2009, 11:19PM

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.

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1 comment:

john bravon said...

The other noticeable cause of accident is speeding. Bad weather and roads can also lead to an accident. They have become a common occurrence today.

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