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18 years after son killed in wreck with illegal immigrant

Family continues fight for tougher immigration laws

dustin inman

Inman says that his favorite picture of Dustin is the last picture ever taken of his son. 

By Rosa Willis

Intern reporter

 

With Father’s Day already passed, many barbecues, fishing days and family parties have passed as well. For most fathers, the day is full of joy and celebration, but for Billy Inman, the holiday hasn’t been like that in 18 years.

Inman lost his son Dustin on Father’s Day weekend in 2000. Inman, his wife and his son were traveling to Hiawassee for a family cookout when they were rear-ended in Ellijay at a stoplight by a car going roughly 62 m.p.h. The Inmans’ car was crushed into the vehicle directly in front of them, killing Dustin,16, on impact and leaving Ms. Inman paralyzed.

According to Mr. Inman, his son was a good kid who enjoyed hunting, fishing and golfing. “He could catch a fish out of a mud puddle,” Inman said. “He cared about people. He was my buddy, my best friend. He loved being around family and friends.”

Inman’s wife Kathy was injured severely and her husband is now her primary caretaker. He works three days a week and takes her to the doctor almost twice every week. “It just breaks my heart,” he said. 

The family never received the justice they deserved. After being left in the hospital for months and missing their own son’s funeral, Inman and his wife learned that the man who hit their car and killed their son was an illegal immigrant from Mexico. 

Gonzalez Gonzalo Harrell was scantly injured in the crash. After being taken to the hospital for further examination, he escaped and hasn’t been seen again by authorities in this area. It took three months for Harrell to be charged with vehicular homicide, but, by then, he was no longer in the U.S. to face these charges. 

What happened to the Inman family directly ties into the current political debates in this country over immigration. 

Inman blames the lax immigration laws in America for what happened to his family. “It’s happening in every city, every town across the county,” Inman said. 

Around 2003, Inman met D.A. King, an activist for stricter immigration laws. King wanted to create an organization to remember Dustin and spread the Inmans’ story. The Dustin Inman Society was created with a goal to have laws enforced to end the immigration problem the U.S. faces today. 

He said that they once dreamed of building a cabin on their property in Hiawassee and taking care of their grandchildren there. Now that Inman’s dream is unattainable, he fears what will happen as he grows old. 

Inman wants to thank every police officer, paramedic and first responder who helped his family. He is very grateful for what he still has in his life. If he could speak to Dustin again he would tell him, “I was awful proud to be your daddy. I still love you and I miss you.”

For more information about Inman and King’s movement, visit the Dustin Inman Society’s website at thedustininmansociety.org.