Family of Hillsborough boy killed by runaway truck files suit

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The family of a 5-year-old boy killed by a truck that rolled away from a construction site the day after Christmas has filed suit in Orange County against the companies involved in the building project.

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Everett Copeland was hit by a runaway dump truck that came down a hill in the Forest Ridge neighborhood. He was taken to Duke University Hospital, but died.

RELATED: 911 calls reveal frantic moments after Hillsborough boy hit by dump truck

Alejandro Suarez, 28, of 287 Spider Lily Lane in Angier, has been charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle in the case. He’s being held in jail and is next expected in court on Feb. 20.

The truck was being loaded with dirt when it “rolled away from its work area,” authorities said.

The lawsuit names Suarez, Kala Contracting Inc. and a number of other people and companies as defendants.

“Everett was our sweet, beautiful 5-year-old boy,” his parents said in a statement. “He brought infectious enthusiasm and curiosity to everything he did. He lived long enough to experience great love from his family and friends and to love others greatly, but not long enough to experience all the joys of a full life: school, first love, college, marriage, and parenthood.”

The parents thanked friends, family, colleagues, neighbors and the community for the love and support they were shown. And they thanked first responders and hospital workers for all they did.

They said in their statement that they’re filing suit to make sure there is a full accounting of how their son lost his life.

We are committed to honoring Everett and his memory in any way we can. This includes making sure there is a full accounting of how he lost his life while playing with his friends in the yard on the day after Christmas. This knowledge cannot bring our Everett back to us but it may ensure that this type of tragedy is not visited upon another family or innocent child. Everett lived only five years but he understood well the importance of taking responsibility for his behavior and making amends when necessary. That is our hope and goal in filing this case – to live up to the standards and principles we taught Everett and to expect others to do the same.

The suit contends that Suarez didn’t even have a driver’s license, a press release announcing the suit stated.

The boy’s father, William Copeland, was in the kitchen making sandwiches for the group of children playing with Legos in the yard when the truck crashed into Everett, according to the news release’s summary of the suit.

“This man was unqualified and untrained to safely operate this truck, and his employers knew that and should never have allowed an unoccupied truck to be loaded so unsafely,” said David Kirby of Edwards Kirby, LLP, one of two Raleigh law firms, along with Holt Sherlin, LLP, who represents the family, in the news release.

“This was an entirely preventable tragedy,” added Kirby.

One of the defendants named in the suit is Crescent Communities.

“While we are saddened by the tragic loss of a child’s life and continue to keep the family in our thoughts and prayers, we cannot comment on pending litigation. We are continuing to cooperate with the authorities and all involved parties as requested,” said Tony Wilbert, Crescent Communities spokesman.

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