Kelly M. Williamson
His mother, Barbara Flynn, didn't have to look on a calendar; she didn't have to check records. She knew how old Kelly was when he was killed: 24 years, 6 months, and 18 days old. One of the characteristics of victims of crime is that they have a certain cold facts riveted into their memory, the telephone call, the last words spoken to their loved ones, or the exact age, to the day.
Kelly had attended school and grew up in the state of California. He married and had a son, Joseph. After moving to Southeast Kansas and the Southwest Missouri area, Kelly obtained work as a high steel painter. His work caused him to travel during the week, which limited the time he could spend with Joseph.
When Kelly did have a weekend, he spent it with his son. They had their favorite park, and their favorite cave in that park. Even thought Joseph was only 4, those experiences would become his favorite memories.
Kelly loved the thrill of riding motorcycles, and he was good at it. It was on August 20, 1983 that he was riding one of his motorcycles and a car made an illegal turn immediately in front on him. The collision that followed broke ribs, tore tissue from is heart, and punctured lungs. Kelly died a few minutes later on the operating table.
The drunk driver walked away with no injury. He was charged with a DWI. He had been in trouble with the law on previous occasions but no prior DWI. He had no driver’s license, it had been revoked. His girl friend had hocked a radio at a pawn shop and with the money a fifth of whiskey had been purchased. He was 20 years old, 1 year under the legal drinking age.
Later in a civil suit against the girl friends insurance company the driver would testify in behalf of Kelly. Barbara relates how strange it was sitting at the same table with the one who killed her son, and now the driver voluntarily spoke on her son's behalf.
Judge Applequest gave the drunk driver a 2 year sentence. Barbara has been told that he was out of prison in 10 or 11 months, and has been arrested and returned to prison for public intoxication.
The stress triggered by the loss of a loved one is further intensified by legal and medical demands. Victims tend to deny the reality of the tragedy and expect their loved one to walk in the back door anytime. Barbara started receiving ambulance bills, hospital bills, and doctor bills, and it is her feeling that those responsible for killing her son should be responsible for paying the bills. To further compound the stress, Barbara had to go through the legal strain of trying to recover insurance money.
There are also daily reminders that Kelly is missing from the family circle. The dearest reminder is Kelly's son. Joseph strongly resembles his dad. In a recent trip to California 7 year old Joseph wanted to know where his daddy had lived, where he had gone to school and where were the parks in which his daddy had played. There are questions which Joseph asks that reflect more family interest than other boys his age. He is a little boy who is lost and he's looking for an identity. There isn't a day that goes by or a night, he seems to talk about it more at night then he does during the day time that he hasn't talked about his daddy. I am very surprised that his memory is as good as it is because we kept Joseph since Kelly was on the road most of the time.
Joey is a very big boy for 7 years old. He is built just like his daddy. He keeps saying I am going to be big like my daddy. I am going to be strong like my daddy. He even tried to lift weights because that is what Kelly did. Kelly was 6'3" and weighed about 219lbs. and only had about 4% body fat on him. He was a big boy.
Kelly was on a motorcycle when he was killed, and Joey has always liked motorcycles. Kelly has another motorcycle in Springfield which my son Kevin now has. It will be Joey's someday but Joey won't even go by it now. He likes it, he likes the thought that it was his daddy's. But he won't go near it yet.
Joey played baseball this last season and he's a good little baseball player. He hit a double and he said, Grandma you know who I hit that ball for? (And really I thought he would say for his grandpa because he wasn't there at that game or perhaps me.) Then he said, I hit that for my daddy.
Fourteen months after losing her son to a drunk driver, Barbara Flynn lost her brother in a fatal collision only 3 miles from where Kelly was killed.
Gail Everett, a 29 year old truck driver, was asleep in the sleeper of the 16 wheeler, when his driving partner, Claudie E Startzman, had a collision which sent their truck over a bridge railing, both Claudie and Gail were killed.
The driver of the car was convicted of leaving the scene of the accident, and was placed on 5 years probation. He had three prior DWI
Lightening does strike twice in the same place: and it hurts both times-- Just ask Barbara Flynn.