Another driver stopped a man in Florence, Ala., to tell him he was dragging something under his trailer. The man stepped out and discovered the body of his son, Colbert County Coroner Carlton Utley, Alabama news outlets reported Tuesday.
The father had just dropped off Utley, a former paramedic and father of three. He was trying early Monday afternoon to cross between his father’s truck and utility trailer, ala.com reported. Unaware Utley was still between the trailer and truck, the father continued on his way.
“It’s a tragic accident,” Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler told a local newspaper, the TimesDaily. “It’s a horrific scene. There’s no other way to describe it.”
The police chief did not identify Utley’s father by name. He did say a child was in the truck with him when the accident happened. Utley was in his third term as coroner. At age 28, he was one of the youngest elected to the coroner’s office, according to his campaign website.
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Utley worked as an emergency medical technician and paramedic until 2007, when he became the full-time coroner for Colbert County in north central Alabama. He also served as assistant fire chief for the Spring Valley Volunteer Fire Department.
“We understand what happened because of what we do, but it’s hard to comprehend when it’s someone you know and love,” Spring Valley Chief Keith Reaves told WAAY TV.
“I don’t think I can count on one hand how many calls I was on that he wasn’t there. He pretty much did a lot of things for a lot of people.”
His wife, Michelle Utley, said in a public post on her Facebook page that his funeral service will be Saturday. She said he will be buried beside his grandfather.
As much as he loved his work, WAAY reported that his family was more important to him than anything. A Facebook page, Remembering Carlton Utley, was filling with pictures of Utley with his children.
A GoFundMe page set up to help Utley’s family with funeral and other expenses had surpassed its $5,000 goal by Wednesday morning. The Colbert County Sheriff’s Office posted a link to the account from its Facebook page, noting:
“He was very often the first responder to car wrecks through the ambulance service he worked for. He always did his best to help anyone in need. God bless this family in their time of need.”