Man charged after boy hit, killed by construction truck in Hillsborough

Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Runaway truck hits house, kills boy
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A runaway construction truck struck and killed a little boy playing in his yard.

HILLSBOROUGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- A worker faces charges after a construction truck barreled down a hill into a home Monday, killing a 5-year-old boy.

It happened in Hillsborough's Forest Ridge subdivision, a new neighborhood not far from U.S. 70. Many homes are still under construction around houses where families were home the day after Christmas.

On Dogwood Bloom Lane, neighbors describe themselves as close knit. It's quiet and children play up and down the street while construction crews work nearby. That's the way it was Monday afternoon when the unthinkable happened.

The construction truck came loose and rolled down a hill

Just before 1 p.m., Hillsborough police responded to emergency calls about a construction dump truck and a 5-year-old boy. Just up the street, on a hill, construction crews were loading the back of the truck when it started rolling.

No one was inside of the truck when it started gaining speed down the hill, through a front yard, a driveway, and then a garage door.

Playing in the driveway just in front of that garage were children. One was William Everett Copeland. Neighbors say he was playing soccer, and he couldn't get out of the way fast enough. The truck hit him before crashing into the home.

William Everett Copeland

Neighbors say a doctor lives in the neighborhood and ran over to help. She performed CPR until emergency crews arrived.

"I heard a lot of sirens, a lot of commotion," said Greg Tuttle, who came outside and saw the damage to the home, "I thought that was sad in itself but then I heard a little boy was killed, just made it, quite a bit tragic."

Hillsborough Police Chief Duane Hampton said the boy was rushed to Duke University Hospital, but did not survive.

Alejandro Suarez, 28, of Angier, is charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. Police said he was responsible for the control of the vehicle. He was taken to the Orange County Jail and is being held on a $10,000 bond.

Alejandro Suarez
image courtesy Orange County Sheriff's Office

At this point, we don't believe the vehicle was properly secured," said Chief Hampton. "We will also be following up the investigation, looking at the mechanical condition of the vehicle and confirming all of the working relationships, regarding specifically which company the crew was working for."

Online, the developer listed for Forest Ridge is Crescent Communities.

Tony Wilbert, a spokesperson for the company, issued the following statement:

Crescent Communities is saddened by the accident and child's death today at the Forest Ridge community in Hillsborough. The accident involved construction equipment operated by a contractor hired by one of the community's homebuilders. Because Hillsborough police have charged another company's employee in the death, Crescent cannot comment on the actual events or criminal case. We are closely monitoring the situation and cooperating with authorities. Crescent cannot express strongly enough our sympathies for the child's family and friends.

Friends have set up a GoFundMe page for the boy's parents to help with funeral expenses.

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