Reporting Susan Koeppen
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – No doubt you’ve seen them on the road, especially this time of year. Vehicles pulling trailers with all kinds of things like boats and landscaping equipment.
However, not all the trailers are hooked up correctly and that can have deadly consequences.
Jeremy Cox and his two children were on a highway in Minnesota, when a trailer on a pickup truck broke free and crashed into the family minivan.
Kristine Cox lost her husband and daughter that day.
“And I just fell to the ground. All the air just left me. My world just shattered,” Kristine said.
It’s hard to forget the tragedy on Route 8 in Richland Township when a wood chipper broke free and crashed into a car driven by Spencer Morrison with his triplets buckled up in the back.
Morrison, his daughter, Alaina, and son, Garret, were killed. Ethan was badly injured.
“That is by far probably one of the worst accidents I have ever had to deal with,” Northern Regional Police Officer Tim Spontak said.
Officer Spontak remembers that accident well and the fact that the wood chipper was never properly secured to the dump truck that was pulling it.
“Someone’s whole life, their family was devastated by the actions of one person not taking the actions and doing what needed to be done,” Spontak said.
To prevent tragedies like the accident that claimed Spencer, Alaina and Garret, the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office and police departments in the North Hills are doing spot checks of trailers.
A trailer pulled over on McKnight Road was attached with just a makeshift clip and the safety chains weren’t put on correctly.
To prevent a trailer from becoming detached, a safety clip, that costs less than a cup of coffee, is required.
“This safety pin is going to keep this locked and keep this on the towing vehicle,” Officer Spontak said.
And the safety chains need to be crossed.
“If this tongue should come free, with the chains being crossed it will actually rest in that cradle and prevent it from hitting the pavement,” Officer Spontak said.
In the accident that killed the Morrisons, those safety chains weren’t connected.
Amanda Engelhart was driving the truck pulling the trailer that killed Jeremy and Izzie Cox.
“Just a split second and it changed my life, changed someone else’s life and it will never be the same,” Engelhart said.
During a recent spot check in the North Hills, 54 traffic stops were made. Eight trailers were confiscated by police and placed out of service.