Man charged with DUI on riding lawn mower speaks out

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

WINCHESTER, Ky. (WKYT) - A red lawn mower sits next to Jeff Reese's home, and it serves as a reminder of how close his grandson came to a dangerous situation on Sunday.

"You went with Jeff on the lawn mower didn't you?" asked Reese of his six-year-old grandson, Cameron, who only nods.

"Did Papaw tell you to go?" Cameron shakes his head.

"Alright," responded the grandfather.

Reese said Cameron, or as he calls him, "Bubby," went for a ride with Reese's friend Jeffery Hayes, when he wasn't supposed to.

"He (Hayes) wanted me to take him to Kroger's, I said, 'Well, give me about an hour.' He said, 'Well, I'm going to go and take me and Bubby, and we'll take the lawn mower and go on out there.' I said, 'Now, bull, you ain't taking Bubby out there, you're drunk."

"I'm 49-years-old I should've known better," started Hayes, "I was doing most of the controlling to the lawn mower. I was letting him think he was driving but he wasn't."

According to Winchester police, Hayes was warned by an officer not to drive his lawn mower, because the officer said he could tell Hayes was intoxicated. Moments later, the same officer reported Hayes and the young boy riding up Aubrey Lane behind him.

"While I was sitting at the stop sign, he drove up behind me down the center of Aubrey Lane on a red Murray 14 horsepower riding lawn mower with a six-year-old child in his lap," wrote the officer in the citation.

"I didn't even know they were gone until that woman over there, in 213, told me," described Reese, "He (Hayes) was right there at the top of the hill, I guess, fixing to take off and the police got him, thank God."

When asked if he was given a warning or told not to drive his lawn mower, Hayes denied it.

Police say Hayes smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech. In the report, the officer said Hayes failed to hold position, could not hold foot for more than a two count, he stopped the test and stated, "he could not complete it."

The report said Hayes blew a .222 blood-alcohol content, "creating a great risk to the six-year-old child."

"I could tell by looking at him that he was drunk, and I could smell it on him," added Reese, which is why he was not pleased that the boy disappeared on him.

When asked if it was a good idea, in hind sight, Hayes responded, "No, sir. I mean I'm on depression medicine and I shouldn't have been drinking and taking it with that."

Reese said his friendship with Hayes will never be the same, as for Hayes he said he regrets his actions. He went on to defend himself saying he wasn't driving that fast and the mower blades were not running.

Hayes is charged with D.U.I. and wanton endangerment.

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