Mother who lost husband, daughter shares warning for people pull - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Mother who lost husband, daughter shares warning for people pulling trailers

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MINNESOTA -

(WMC-TV) - Whether it is carrying a boat or an RV, farm equipment or furniture, most people have driven behind a car or truck hauling something with a trailer. Or maybe you are the person doing the hauling. Whatever the situation, you will take extra precaution after hearing one family's story.

For many families, Memorial Day weekend is a time for travel. But a trip to the cemetery is one trip no wife and mother should ever have to make.

Jeremy Cox was taking his two children, Izzy and Liam, to the library. A trailer being towed by a red pickup approached in the other lane, but broke free. It crashed through the windshield of Jeremy's Honda CRV, hitch first.

Jeremy was killed instantly. Liam, who was 11 months old, was seated behind the passenger seat. He was untouched. But 3-year-old Izzy, who was strapped in her car seat behind her dad, was also killed.

Kristie Cox, wife and mom, fell to the ground when she learned the news.

"All the air just left me. My world just shattered," she said.

The entire community felt the loss. Jeremy was Kristie's high school sweetheart, a volunteer firefighter, and president of the Friends of the Library. His parents own the local hardware store. And Izzy owned all of their hearts.

But the grief only intensified as the cause of the crash emerged.

Trooper McGraw soon discovered why the trailer had unhitched from the truck. It had been connected with a hitch pin, but the investigation showed that the pin was missing a clip.

A security image taken at a salvage yard the morning of the crash shows not only the missing clip at the end of the pin, but just one of the trailer's required safety chains.

"The guidelines for safety devices in Minnesota is there should be two of them," said Jay Sletten, who inspects vehicles for the Minnesota State Patrol.

Sletten says drivers bear a huge responsibility to make sure hitches can handle a trailer's weight, are equipped with the correct sized ball, and have properly attached latches and chains.

Kristie often visits the bedroom she and Jeremy decorated for Izzy, even the clothes in the hamper remain untouched.

"Because if I wash them, they won't smell like her. Three years later, I just can't," she explained.

If Kristie's loss is not reason enough for you to take a second look before heading out on the highway with a trailer, consider one other perspective.

Amanda Engelhart, who was driving the pickup, pulling the trailer, that killed Jeremy and Izzy, went to jail for 30 days. Even though she did not own the trailer she was using, nor did she hook it up, the state held her responsible.

"It's just a split second. It's just one day, changed my whole life. Changed someone else's whole family. And it'll never be the same," she said. "I'm sorry every day."

Too young to remember his dad and his sister, Liam is learning how they lived. Some day, when he is older, he will also learn how they died.

Kristie Cox told reporter Boyd Huppert that she only agreed to be interviewed in hopes people who see the story will think about her husband and daughter every time they hook up a trailer. She wants them to double check both safety chains and make sure all clips and pins are in their proper places.

To check towing laws where you live, click here: http://drivinglaws.aaa.com/laws/trailer-hitch-signals/

In-depth information on towing, from NHTSA: http://ftpcontent4.worldnow.com/wmctv/towing.pdf

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