Family says crash with Hickory officer that killed mom, son ‘should not have happened’

HICKORY, N.C. — A mother and son were killed after a police SUV crashed into them Friday, troopers said. Thirty-eight-year-old Cynthia Fox and her son, 12-year-old Michael Lail, were inside a minivan when the officer slammed into it.

Cynthia’s mom, Beth, was surprised to hear the circumstances.

“When they said she was killed in an accident, I was like OK, accidents happen. But then they said she was hit by a Hickory city cop,” Beth Fox said.

“For this to happen and lose both of them like that is unreal,” said William Worley, a family friend.

According to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Hickory Police Officer Atia Mohamed Shamseldin, 24, was following a motorcycle Friday that didn’t have a tag and had a reckless driver.

The Hickory police SUV T-boned Fox’s minivan on 13th Avenue Southwest after the chase, which lasted less than a mile. Fox died on Friday and her son died in the hospital Sunday afternoon.

Her family said Lail’s organs were donated to help someone else.

Family members said she was delivering for DoorDash at the time and had a green light when she was hit by the officer.

‘This should not have happened’

Ella Gayer lost her mom and brother.

“There’s no sense in putting other people’s lives in danger in that second because you can still get them,” she said.

Hickory police sent Channel 9 their chase policy that says, in part, the officer should “weigh the importance of apprehending suspects….against the risks associated with vehicle pursuits. The safety of the public and the officer are the primary considerations in determining whether to begin or continue a vehicle pursuit.”

The policy allows officers to go through a red light or stop sign, but only after slowing down for safety.

Beth Fox said she is praying for the officer and his family but believes he should be held accountable.

“This is senseless. This should not have happened,” she said. “He should not have been chasing a motorcycle just because of a tag and my daughter and grandson have to die for that.”

“The only thing I want to know about that whole situation is why he tried pursuing a motorcycle in an SUV, knowing he’s not going to catch him whatsoever,” Worley said.

Worley said Fox was a hardworking, loving mother.

“She was always the biggest kindhearted person; she never met a stranger, and she would give everything she had to anybody if they needed it,” Worley said.

Officer Shamseldin has been placed on administrative leave as the investigation continues. The police chief said the SUV did not have a dashboard camera, but the officer does have a body camera and they’ll be checking that.

An accident reconstruction team spent hours at the scene Monday trying to determine exactly what happened. They also planned to pull data from the officer’s car to determine his speed at the time of the wreck. State troopers said once they finish their investigation, they’ll meet with the district attorney and let him decide on charges.

“We’ve got to change this and the only way that’s going to happen is for there to be charges,” Beth Fox said. “I don’t want him to go to prison, I don’t want that for him, but I want there to be consequences. I want people to know if you do this -- when you kill somebody, there’s a consequence and you’ve got to pay it just like I do.”

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