WOODSTOCK — Kathy Inman’s home in Woodstock is decked in patriotic symbols like American flags and bald eagles.
Outside, her late husband Billy’s old car is still parked, with stickers showing messages against illegal immigration. There’s also a poster of the man wanted for causing the car accident in 2000 that killed her 16-year-old son, Dustin, and left Kathy with permanent brain damage.
Billy Inman, who died June 7, dedicated his life after the accident to Kathy’s care and trying to end illegal immigration through advocacy groups and by contacting elected officials. His widow is now committed to picking up where he left off.
“I’m going to carry on Billy’s fight for the rest of my life,” Kathy Inman said in an interview Tuesday with the Tribune.
The fight started 19 years ago, when a car, reportedly traveling 60 mph, struck the Inman’s stopped vehicle at a traffic light in Ellijay when the family was traveling for Father’s Day weekend. Gonzalo Harrell-Gonzalez, the man charged with the crime who was living in the U.S. illegally, fled authorities after being treated for his own injuries and went to Mexico. Later, the Inmans learned that Mexico does not extradite its citizens for vehicular manslaughter, leaving the family with little recourse. Harrell-Gonzalez is on a “most wanted” list by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office.
The Dustin Inman Society is a Marietta-based group named in honor of the young man that calls for tougher immigration laws and enforcement. The Inmans have worked with them and other groups to speak publicly on immigration reform, and Kathy Inman plans to continue doing so.
In the meantime, family members and friends are working together to provide Kathy Inman’s medical care. She uses a wheelchair to get around, and has caregivers at home that help her with everyday tasks her husband used to do.
“There’s a bunch of people trying to take Billy’s place and we can’t measure up. He did so much for her,” said Leigh Kelley, Kathy Inman’s sister. “We don’t know how he did everything he did. He was so well known, and so well loved and he did so much for everyone. If I called him and said, ‘could you come help me?,’ he and Kathy would get in the truck to help me. Billy put himself last, all the time. It was always Kathy first.”
Billy Inman died of a heart attack, which Kathy attributes to the stress of taking care of her and his constant fight to see justice for his son.
“He killed my child and now my husband,” she said of Harrell-Gonzalez.
On June 7, public safety personnel responded to the Inman home where they found the 55-year-old Billy Inman dead and Kathy suffering a medical emergency. His funeral was one week ago at Sosebee Memorial Chapel in Canton.
In 2000 neither Billy nor Kathy Inman were able to attend their son’s funeral because they were recovering from severe injury. But Kathy Inman was able to attend her husband’s funeral last week.
Medical costs for Inman’s family include around-the-clock caregiver services, frequent doctor visits and medication. A GoFundMe was established by a family friend, Mary Ann Mendoza, a founder of Angel Families, an organization made up of people affected by crimes committed by illegal immigrants. To donate or for more information, visit www.gofundme.com/kayckb-a-family-in-need.