KNIGHTDALE, N.C. (WNCN) — People continued Monday to stop by the Knightdale Police Department to show their support and express their condolences after the department lost one of its officers in the line of duty Sunday.
Officer Ryan Hayworth was only with the department for three months. Raleigh Police Capt. Andy Murr went to church with him and his family — they were close.
Murr was also working and responded to the crash.
“He was just simply doing his job,” Murr said.
Hayworth dedicated his life to serving, first in the U.S. Army, then the North Carolina National Guard, and more recently the Knightdale Police Department.
“He was just very excited, I think the last I heard, he told me he was down to 10 days of training,” he said.
Murr knew Hayworth as Ryan. Hayworth was the best man at Murr’s daughter’s wedding.
“Recently I tried to tell him, I’m like ‘you’re 23 years old now, you don’t have to call me Mr. Andy anymore.’ And he would say, ‘yes Mr. Andy,” Murr explained. “He liked to joke around — he was kind of a ham. He would like to make fun of himself sometimes but also, he liked to talk about how great his hair was. He had a lot of good hair days,” he added.
Murr said the last day and a half has been a mixture of laughing and crying.
Hayworth was responding to a single-vehicle crash on the side of I-540 early Sunday morning. He was with a training officer Cody Hagler.
They were on the side of the road with their SUV blue lights on when a driver plowed into the back of them, knocking one cruiser into the other.
“I saw the severity of the crash, and all that was going on,” Murr said.
Murr knew an officer was critically injured but didn’t realize it was Hayworth until after when he was picking up his gear off the road.
“I looked down and saw a radio battery and it had his name on it,” he said. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever felt.”
Soon he learned Hayworth had died. He knew he needed to be the one to tell his family.
Hayworth’s father – Tim Hayworth – is a former Zebulon Police Chief.
“They’re not mad at God, they question why it had to be Ryan — as we (also) do,” he said.
Troopers said alcohol was a factor. Charges against the driver – Dedric Privette – are pending. All three others involved, including Hagler, remain in the hospital.
The town of Knightdale will honor Hayworth at a candlelight vigil on Wednesday at 6 pm at Knightdale Station Park.