Man faces misdemeanor charge in death of tow driver Keagan Spencer

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — The man accused of hitting and killing a 25-year-old tow truck driver as he attempted to rescue a dog off M-6 has been charged in his death.

Payton Ferris is facing one count of a moving violation causing death. If convicted, he could face up to one year in jail and up to $2,000 in fines.

Keagan Spencer, 25, died after being struck by a vehicle back on Nov. 4, 2023.

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker told FOX 17 Wednesday that he had little choice in how to charge Ferris because of the circumstances of what happened.

"There was no alcohol, no drugs, no reckless driving," Becker explained Wednesday.

"So, this was the only charge possible."

Michigan State Police (MSP) said Keagan was heading eastbound on M-6 near Kraft Avenue in his tow truck on Nov. 4. He was towing vehicles, but had pulled over to save a dog who was running loose on the highway.

MSP said Ferris lost control of his car, hit the median and then Keagan.

According to Keagan's mother, Miko Duron Garrison, the prosecutor's office told their family that Michigan's "Slow Down, Move Over" law does not apply to this situation.

Keagan's father, Matt Spencer, agrees.

"What if it was your family member that went out to do their job that day, and they got struck and killed?" he told FOX 17 Wednesday. "And the punishment to that person was only going to be a slap on the hand? I just don't think it's right."

The 25-year-old leaves behind a fiance he was set to marry this fall and a young daughter.

"It feels like we are reliving the day that Keagan was killed, when you hear that there is no justice to be served for a life," she said.

While she hopes there are further repercussions for the man who hit her son, she is now channeling her despair into efforts for change.

"Hopefully, if anything, at least we can make change from here on out," she said Wednesday. "I just still don't feel like my son should just be a statistic, and a slap on the wrist."

Alongside state Sen. Thomas Albert, she is pushing for a pair of bills that would change the way our "Slow Down, Move Over" law is applied. They would also allocate funds to better educate the general public about roadside safety.

Albert introduced Senate Bill 779 back on March 12 and Senate Bill 781 on March 13.

A GoFundMe has been created to help support Keagan's family.

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