Mother wants change after son was killed in June traffic incident on I-75

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn, (WATE) — A Lenoir City mother is grieving after her son was killed in a bizarre incident on I-75 on June 10. According to Knoxville Police, a steel piece that was part of a tractor-trailer went airborne before hitting a car behind it. The steel plate went through the windshield, hitting the driver and killing him.

That driver was 28-year-old Ben Hillsgrove. His mother tells us he was on his way home from work.

His mother, Linda Hillsgrove says she was on her way home from work as well. When she got home and he wasn’t there, she knew something was wrong.

“His car wasn’t in the driveway, I said that’s odd, it’s 6 o’clock at night and he’s got to work the next day, that’s not like him,” said Hillsgrove.

She says an officer pulled in behind her. “I said to the officer, ‘did I do anything wrong’ but he said ‘I’ve got to talk to you;’ he came into the living room and said ‘I don’t know how to say this but your son is dead,'” said Hillsgrove.

Linda says police have not been able to track down where that piece of steel came from but she is using this as an opportunity to make more people aware of what can happen.

“Something needs to be done to make people aware that people have to be careful with their equipment when they are driving it down the road,” said Hillsgrove.

(Contributed photos used with permission WATE)

We talked with Tennessee Highway Patrol about tractor-trailer safety. THP spokesperson Lt. Stacey Heatherly says it is the driver of the semi’s responsibility to check all equipment before heading out on the road. That includes brakes, tires, and any mechanical equipment on the truck. THP also says trucks and trailers must go through yearly full inspections as well.

To make sure those rules are followed, THP troopers are certified to do an inspection if they need to.

“We are all certified, every Trooper in the state is certified level 1 or level 3, you have 37 steps to inspect a commercial vehicle as a full inspection or 13 steps to do a level 3 which is basically the paperwork,” says Heatherly.

(Inspection procedure checklist, provided by THP)

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