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

Friday, Oct. 11, 2013 8:29 PM
Last updated Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013 8:38 AM
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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.

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rmwhitley 10/11/13 - 10:28 pm
I see so

many moronic idiots on the phone every time I'm behind the wheel. If I possessed a cellphone buster, there'd be a ton of incomplete calls.

crackerjack 10/11/13 - 11:28 pm
Distracted Driving

I wish distracted driving was enforced more. It is the number one cause of accidents now. Prayers for the family.

Young Fred
Young Fred 10/11/13 - 11:30 pm
No different than dui!

Lots of people won't agree, because they're guilty of the same.

I can't count the times, I've seen what I thought were drunks or fools on the road, only to find out they were engrossed in a cell phone conversation, or texting!

It's high time we start treating this for what it is.

A disrespect, or a callous disregard.

avidreader 10/12/13 - 07:12 am
To crackerjack!

I agree. I do not use my cell phone while driving, and for a good reason. All it takes is a split second to loose your bearing. I see many, many drivers overtly using phones behind the wheel. The cops have to see it too. Maybe it's time for the cops to make a statement, and start busting people.

curly123053 10/12/13 - 07:42 am
Texting and Driving = DUI

I have seen the dangers of texting when I worked EMS. This is a serious issue. They keep saying "we need stricter laws to keep teens from texting and driving" !! I have observed just as many adults messing with their phones while drivng as teens. FORGET the age limits when dealing with texting and driving laws and make the laws across the board for everyone.
I work in Augusta and live in Aiken. I have designated stops where I will stop and answer a text if I need to along the way. If my phone shows I have gotten a text I do not attempt to read it till I reach my stops or I am home. Returning a text while driving equates to DUI in my opinion from what I have seen when working EMS.

seenitB4 10/12/13 - 08:05 am
Sickening & sad

The same thing happened here too...young girl distracted on phone crashed into a family walking in neighborhood......killed a toddler & injured other family members....we really have to crack down on phone users....tough as dui laws are needed.

itsanotherday1 10/12/13 - 08:10 am
"I wish distracted driving

"I wish distracted driving was enforced more." It could be, but many agencies are too busy sitting by the highway with a radar gun or gathered up at checkpoints. You can't spot erratic driving from those vantages.

Graymare 10/12/13 - 09:02 am
Hang up and drive!!! Enough

Hang up and drive!!! Enough already! Put down the dang cellphones! Is the bs conversation you're having really worth someone's life?

Cynical old woman
Cynical old woman 10/12/13 - 09:04 am

I've been guilty of reading texts, sending texts, and phone conversations while driving. The attitude of the mother of this precious child and her heart has moved me. From this day forward I will NOT text or read texts while driving. Conversations will be kept to a minimum.

oldredneckman96 10/12/13 - 09:42 am

OK, will you not listen to the radio? Talk to the passengers in the car with you? Read the hundreds of bill boards? Just close your eyes when you meet that car with the off road lights? Smoke that ciggerate you just fumbled to find the lighter for? Or will you as parent not let your children play in or near the road? Prayers will help, actions will speak louder here on earth. I know many of you had parents that told you to go play in the road, don't tell your kids that!

LillyfromtheMills 10/12/13 - 08:23 pm
This mother was tested

In her faith and she won. We were taught from birth that our faith in Jesus would save us. I have been so upset that this mother had to face the loss of her son, but was overwhelmed in joy that she has her faith.

lifeiscompletewithGod 10/17/13 - 10:53 am
He was NOT using his cell

He was NOT using his cell phine before or during this accident. Mr.Gill is not smirking, he is beyond heart broken for this family and the life that was taken. he was holding back tears. this man has the kindest heart and the greatest faith. I know God will handle this on each families end. My prayers are with the smith's family and the the Gill's family

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