Friends and loved ones said goodbye Thursday to Billy Inman, a Woodstock man who became a determined foe of illegal immigration when his son was killed in a crash in 2000 in which the other driver was in the country illegally.
Inman died June 7, of an apparent heart attack, according to family members.
Billy and Kathy Inman, along with their 16-year-old son, Dustin were traveling together on June 16, 2000 when Gonzalo Harrell-Gonzalez, who was said to be traveling more than 60 mph, struck the family’s stopped vehicle at a traffic light in Ellijay. After being treated for his injuries at the hospital, Harrell-Gonzalez, a Mexican national who had been living in the U.S. illegally, reportedly fled to Mexico.
On June 7, public safety personnel responded to Inman's home where they found the 55-year-old man dead and his wife Kathy suffering a medical emergency. His funeral was Thursday at Sosebee Memorial Chapel in Canton.
In 2000 neither Billy nor Kathy Inman were able to attend Dustin's Inman's funeral because they were recovering from severe injury. But Kathy Inman was able to attend her husband's funeral last week.
"She is a strong woman who has been through literal hell. She is out of the hospital and was able to attend and speak at her husband’s funeral. In her tearful remarks, she said 'I feel like God is mad at me...'" officials with Marietta-based The Dustin Inman Society said in a written message Monday.
"I lost my child and my husband because of this man," Kathy Inman said in an interview Monday.
Following the crash, Inman became primary caregiver to his wife, who suffered a brain injury and other permanent effects from the crash. He also became a dogged advocate for justice for Dustin and immigration law reform.
For nearly two decades, Inman had been reaching out to politicians to urge them to do something about the issue. The Dustin Inman Society, led by D.A. King, was named in honor of the young man and works to secure the American border.
Billy Inman found supporters for the cause in Georgia and in Washington, D.C.
When the White House established its Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office in April 2018, the Inmans were among the special guests. The following month, U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cartersville, shared their story on the House floor.
“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Billy Inman. Since meeting Billy and Kathy a few years ago, my team and I have gotten to know them well,” Loudermilk said. “Although Billy has gone on to a better place, we will continue our work to bring justice for Dustin and the family.”
Kathy Inman's sister said Monday she has long admired her brother-in-law and his devotion to his wife.
"He was one of the best men I've ever known," said Leigh Kelley, who is Kathy Inman's sister. "There couldn't have been anyone better for my sister."
While Billy Inman's sudden death was painful, Kelley said she has faith he has been reunited with Dustin in heaven. "This is the first time in 19 years he got to spend Father's Day with Dustin and that makes me happy," she said.
Meanwhile, Kelley, family members have made arrangements for Kathy Inman's continued care through a home care provider, though they worry about the expense. Nationally known immigration activist Mary Ann Mendoza, who came to Cherokee County for the funeral and to visit Kathy Inman has set up a fundraising account that can assist in Inman's care: https://www.gofundme.com/kayckb-a-family-in-need