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 boy on a go-kart.
Tyler J. Smith, 14, was pronounced dead at 12:16 p.m. at Georgia Regents Medical Center, where he had been airlift 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 driver to exercise due care, proper 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 east-bound Dodge pickup just after 11 a.m. Investigators suspect that Gill was distracted by his cellphone at the time of the wreck.
“Distracted, (Gill) left the roadway,” Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris said.
The teen, who was being home-schooled, and his 6-year-old brother, Jonathan, were hit by Gill’s east-bound Dodge pickup truck just after 11 a.m. The boys were near the end of the driveway of their home on the 4500 block of Hardy McManus Road, Morris said.
“He was just making a U-turn,” said Becton. “And he stood up and when he did, he pushed the little boy with his hands for him to go down the hill.”
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 were standing nearby when the truck veered onto the shoulder and skiddeed 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.
Scott Stephens said he and his wife arrived on the scene just after the accident occurred. He said the boy’s mother waved him down, so he pulled over.
Stephens said when he got to the truck he saw the teen was pinned beneath one of the truck’s rear wheels. He said several people quickly came to the boy’s aid.
“We just jumped in and pulled the truck off of him and started CPR,” Stephens said.