Local News

Farmer Killed While Driving Tractor On Highway 264

Posted May 2, 2003

— Ted Keen of Nash County recently died on Highway 264 after an 18-wheeler rear-ended his tractor. It is a reminder of how dangerous it is when farm equipment and high-speed vehicles share the road.

"I just hope his family gets over this," said Junior Etheridge, a friend of Keen's who also uses Highway 264 from time to time. "I'm going to start trying to get somebody to follow when I'm going down a real big highway. It's just a bad situation."

The Highway Patrol says Keen's tractor was moving about 20 miles an hour. The truck that hit him was traveling 65.

"It does impede the flow of traffic, however, they do have the legal right to be out there," said line Sgt. Ralph Futrell, of the Highway Patrol.

In North Carolina, it is legal for tractors to be out on highways. The law dates back to 1937, specifically exempting farm equipment from minimum highway speeds. Farm employees do have to be at least 15 years old, and they can not drive on interstates.

Farmer Tommy Shingleton said he remembers a time when other drivers were more accommodating.

"It's really been on my mind about the danger of that slow moving vehicle have out there on the road by everyone being in such a hurry," he said.

This is the second family tragedy for the Keen family in a year. Last August,

three men shot their way

into the Keen home. Ted's mother, Mattie, was killed in the incident.

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