Police suspect cell phone distraction led to crash that killed 14-year-old in Evans

Columbia County sheriff’s investigators suspect the driver who killed a 14-year-old Evans boy Thursday was distracted by his cell phone when he veered off of Hardy McManus Road and plowed into the teen on a go-kart.

Tyler J. Smith, 14, was pronounced dead shortly after noon at Georgia Regents Medical Center, where he had been airlifted after the crash, according to Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins.

“He’s just a real good kid,” said Pat Becton, who has rented the Hardy McManus Road home to the Smith family for about a year. “It’s a sad situation, It’s something that did not need to happen.”

Kenneth Earl Gill, 59, of North Augusta, was charged with first-degree vehicular homicide, reckless driving, failure to maintain lane and to exercise due care, improper use of radios and mobile telephones. He was booked and released from the Columbia County Detention Center on a $13,300 bond, according to jail records.

Tyler and his 6-year-old brother, Jonathan, were hit by Gill’s eastbound Dodge pickup just after 11 a.m.

“Distracted, (Gill) left the roadway,” Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said.

The boys were near the end of the driveway of their home on the 4500 block of Hardy McManus Road when they were hit, Morris said.

Authorities said the 6-year-old was only brushed by the truck and not seriously injured in the crash.

Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Sharif Chochol said it appeared that Tyler was sitting on a go-kart and his brother was standing nearby when the truck veered onto the shoulder and skidded to a stop at the base of a steep embankment across from Woodruff Way. It appears they had been riding the go-kart up and down the driveway and were not in the road, Morris said.

Tyler was pinned underneath one of the Dodge’s rear wheels until a group of men rushed to his aid. They managed to lift the truck off his chest and start CPR, but his injuries were too serious, officials said.

Evans accident kills teen, injures brother

More