BOOK REVIEW- Smash, Smash, Smash: The True Story of Kai the Hitchhiker by Philip Fairbanks

Fiona Dodwell
4 min readJan 20, 2023
Book cover promo image courtesy of Philip Fairbanks

“It all began with two fateful rides, only weeks apart. The first would catapult him to fame and epic hero status, and the second would plummet him into the depths of a nightmare that continues to this day.”

— Philip Fairbanks, The True Story Of Kai The Hitchhiker

Independent journalist and author Philip Fairbanks has managed to pull apart a world of apparent corruption, deceit and disease within the legal system with his new book, Smash, Smash, Smash: The True Story of Kai The Hitchhiker.

A project five years in the making, Fairbanks has researched, examined and addressed the true story of Kai (real name Caleb McGillvary) who became an internet sensation after saving a woman from the clutches of a 300 pound man. That man — later identified as Jett Simmons McBride — would not let go of the woman, and worried for her safety, Kai intervened using a hatchet to hit the offender until he finally released her. He saved her. After the dramatic event, Kai was interviewed by a local Fox reporter and the resulting video soon became a huge hit across the internet.

Kai became a household name and drew a huge online following. Such a loved figure was he, that he was invited to appear on high-profile TV shows and a reality TV producer wanted him to be her next star. As many will know (especially in light of the recent Netflix documentary), things took a dramatic turn for the young hitchhiker when he was found guilty of the first-degree murder of an attorney Joseph Galfy. Kai alleged that the attorney had drugged and sexually assaulted him, and that the attack on Galfy was one of self-defense. Sentenced to 57 years in prison, Kai was left locked into a system that he felt hadn’t represented him fairly or looked at all the available evidence that could have changed his sentence.

Kai during his famous interview with Fox

Into this dark and foreboding drama steps journalist Philip Fairbanks, who, after researching every aspect of the case and of Kai’s experiences, believes that there were gaping holes in the investigation and a lot of corruption along the way.

Without giving away any spoilers of the things Fairbanks uncovered during his research (this is one you seriously need to read yourself to get a full picture of the deep rooted problems associated with the case) the hefty book goes into uncomfortable territory in it’s exploration of what Kai experienced and the wider implications it highlights regarding the criminal justice system.

Fairbanks does not make his claims in this book lightly, indeed, The True Story of Kai The Hitchhiker is full to the brim of startling detail, documents and descriptions of events that will shock most readers — yet each claim is laboriously verified by the author.

The book is brilliantly written, highly engaging and deeply disturbing. It reads like a fiction-thriller and yet the shocking reality is that the events described within are alleged to have actually happened to Kai himself.

Image courtesy of CTV News

Tracing things way back to Kai’s childhood trauma and taking readers through a journey of his life to the point of the death of Galfy, it’s hard not to come away from the book without feeling that Kai was robbed of a fair chance from the very beginning.

If you watched The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker on Netflix and felt some major parts of the story were missing, you’d be right, and Fairbanks has tried to fill in the rest of the puzzle for you.

A highly recommended read for fans of true crime and social justice:

5/5 stars

You can find out more about Fairbanks and the new book by clicking HERE