Knightdale, NC – Knightdale Police Department (KPD) Officer Ryan Hayworth died in the line of duty on Oct. 17 after an alleged drunk driver crashed into his patrol vehicle from behind.
The fatal collision occurred on Interstate 540 eastbound at approximately 2:39 a.m., the KPD said in a press release later in the day.
Officer Hayworth, 23, and his field training officer, KPD Officer Cody Hagler, were investigating a single-vehicle crash near mile marker 22 when a suspected drunk driver smashed into the back of their patrol car in the far right lane, the North Carolina Highway Patrol (NCHP) told WTVD.
Investigators said the suspect, 40-year-old Dedric Privette, made no attempt to slow down or move over prior to the collision.
Officer Hayworth, Officer Hagler, Privette, and the driver in the initial crash were all transported to the hospital with injuries.
Officer Hayworth succumbed to his injuries.
He had been with the KPD for just three months.
Officer Hagler was released from the hospital on Wednesday and is recovering at home, WTVD reported.
The NCHP is handling the ongoing investigation into the deadly crash.
“Ryan’s loss [is] an indescribable tragedy for our department and our community,” KPD Chief Lawrence Capps said in the press release. “The pain of his death [is] felt the most by his family, friends, and those who knew him best. As we begin the process of healing, we ask that you join us in a season of prayer for all of those who have been forever touched by this heartbreaking event.”
Officer Hayworth, the son of retired Zebulon Police Chief Timothy Hayworth, served in the Army National Guard prior to joining the KPD three months ago.
He was still actively serving as a specialist at the time of his death, and had served in Kuwait during Operation Enduring Freedom, according to his obituary.
Officer Hayworth was awarded the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal during his five-year military career.
“He performed the duties of counselor, guardian, minister and peacemaker as well as anyone I’ve ever seen,” Chief Capps told WTVD.
Officer Hayworth’s childhood friend, Matthew Hannon, described the young officer as the “type of man who cared deeply about those around him.”
“He’s always sort of had the community service blood in him,” Hannon told WTVD.
Friends, family, law enforcement officers, and community members gathered together at Knightdale Station Park on Wednesday to hold a candlelight vigil in Officer Hayworth’s honor.
“In his 23 years, he has touched so many lives, he has touched so many families,” Knightdale Mayor Jessica Day said during the event, according to WTVD. “I’m proud to see how our community and town has rallied around them to support them.”
In addition to his father, Officer Hayworth leaves behind his mother, brother, and two stepbrothers, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
A fundraising campaign established to help support Officer Hayworth’s family in the wake of their loss has raised over $23,000 so far.
Officer Hayworth will be laid to rest on Friday, according to his obituary.
The Knightdale community will never forget the service and sacrifice of Officer Ryan Hayworth.
Susan and I are keeping Officer Hayworth’s loving family and his many friends and colleagues in our prayers. pic.twitter.com/mGMFjpctH9
— Senator Thom Tillis (@SenThomTillis) October 20, 2021
Children pray with men and women of the Knightdale Police Dept., heads bowed next to the cruiser set up as a memorial for Officer Ryan Hayworth. The 23-yr-old had only been on the force 3 months when @NCSHP says a suspected drunk driver crashed into his patrol car, killing him. pic.twitter.com/3NjjBeUbPq
— Andrea Blanford (@AndreaABC11) October 18, 2021
Here is training officer Cody Hagler who was Officer Ryan Hayworth when he was hit and killed early Sunday morning. Cody came in with a walker and a brace. Right now he’s being embraced by officers from @KdaleNC #ABC11 pic.twitter.com/4t3trQ03HB
— Josh Chapin (@JoshChapinABC11) October 20, 2021
Officer killed while helping person who crashed on I-540
🙏RIP, Officer Ryan Hayworth, Knightdale Police. Officer Cody Hagler injured. Prayers for the families and KPD🙏💙🇺🇸https://t.co/1vFaXkJN2v#BackTheBlue #ThinBlueLine #dog #K9 #police #military #MWD #WaronDrugs #LivePD pic.twitter.com/7TgExelrS1
— Tactical Dog (@TacticalDogLive) October 18, 2021
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Knightdale Police Department Officer Ryan Hayworth, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.