Man charged with Cherokee teen’s death still fugitive 14 years later

The Inman’s keep a wall of photos of Billy in their living room. Kathy Inman is holding the last photo taken of Billy. Billy and Kathy Inman’s son, Dustin, was killed in a motor vehicle accident in the year 2000. An illegal immigrant ran into their car in Ellijay, killing Dustin and their family dog. Kathy is still struggling with injuries sustained from the accident 11 years ago. She uses a wheelchair.
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The Inman’s keep a wall of photos of Billy in their living room. Kathy Inman is holding the last photo taken of Billy. Billy and Kathy Inman’s son, Dustin, was killed in a motor vehicle accident in the year 2000. An illegal immigrant ran into their car in Ellijay, killing Dustin and their family dog. Kathy is still struggling with injuries sustained from the accident 11 years ago. She uses a wheelchair.

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

Growing up as an only child, Dustin Inman told his parents he wanted to have 10 kids. And his dad dreamed of one day being a grandfather.

Billy Inman planned to move to the mountains, where he’d have rocking chairs on the front porch. He could take the grandkids fishing and grow old with his family.

But in an instant, everything changed. Sixteen-year-old Dustin was killed in a crash the FBI said was caused by a man living in the United States illegally. Fourteen years later, the Mexican national remains on the run.

“There’s a hole in my heart that’s never going to be healed,” Billy Inman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “There’s so many things I’ll never get to do. I’m just plain tired.”

It was the Friday before Father’s Day in 2000, and the Inman family of three was heading to the mountains for a weekend trip. Billy, his wife Kathy, Dustin and the family’s dog left their Cherokee County home for family time.

The Inmans were stopped at a red light in Gilmer County when they were slammed from behind by a vehicle driving 62 mph, according to police. Gone in an instant were Dustin and a beloved pet. Billy and Kathy were seriously injured, and the driver accused of hitting them was also taken to a hospital for treatment.

While he was being treated at the hospital, Gonzalez Gonzalo Harrell fled, police said. He’s still missing, and the fight to find him is one the Inmans can’t let end.

“I know in my heart he’s going to pay for what he’s done,” Billy Inman said. “But I’d like to know about it.”

Harrell was indicted in 2001 by a Gilmer County grand jury on charges of homicide by vehicle in the first degree, two counts of serious injury by vehicle, and reckless driving. In 2002, the FBI obtained a federal warrant charging Harrell with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Still Harrell has eluded capture, even though federal and local investigators believe he might still be in Georgia. The Inmans contend that immigration laws have failed their family.

“Six months before our accident, he ran into someone else,” Billy Inman said. “If the laws had been working, he’d have been gone then.”

The Inmans have vowed to keep their family’s story in the news in hopes of finding the man accused of causing the wreck that killed their son. Above all, Billy Inman says he doesn’t want anyone else to experience the emotional and physical pain he and his wife deal with daily.

“I look at him and I wonder what he’d be today,” Billy Inman said. “I’m awfully proud of the kid and I miss him so much. I’m proud to be his Pop.”

Crime Stoppers Atlanta announced Wednesday it has increased the reward to $4,000 for information on Harrell’s whereabouts. Anyone with information in this matter should call 404-577-TIPS (8477).

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