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July 12, 2010 05:53 PM

Madison Woman Killed In Boat/Trailer Accident

Madison, SD


We're learning more about a deadly accident near Madison from Sunday afternoon. A trailer carrying a boat detached, hit an oncoming truck and killed its passenger, Rebecca Hopf.


It's a freak accident that could happen to anyone.

"You drive down the road and you meet all kinds of boats and trailers and campers and you don't really think about an incident like this but obviously it can happen," Highway Patrol Sgt. Scott Knisley said. 

A boat's trailer came loose from the Chevy pickup truck that was pulling it. That sent the boat into oncoming traffic and the path of a Madison couple's Ford pickup truck. The tongue of the trailer is what killed 46-year-old Rebecca Hopf in the passenger seat.

Her husband, 50-year-old Roger Hopf, was driving and didn't see the boat until it was too late.

"He stated that that's what he saw was the tongue of the trailer and it happened so quickly that he had little time to actually respond to the hazard that he was seeing," Knisley said. 

The driver pulling the boat, 46-year-old Michael Nelson of Lake Preston, wasn't hurt. Highway Patrol says the hitch and ball on his truck loosened, but they're not sure whether it was hooked up properly.

"There was a safety chain attached to the trailer. It was still there at the conclusion of the crash so we're still looking into it, so I don't know how it came disengaged," Knisley said.

Or whether the chain itself was strong enough.

"If you have a light-weight safety chain on a heavy boat, camper, trailer, obviously if it would break loose or come loose, it will not probably sustain the weight transfer," Knisley said.

Troopers say Nelson may be charged with a safety chain violation. That carries a $120 fine.

Funeral services will be held for Rebecca Hopf Thursday at 1 p.m. at  Our Savior Lutheran Church in Madison.
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