News 12 at 6, November 5, 2008
PERRY, Ga.---They say the worst pain ever is for a parent to lose a child. How about if a parent loses a child to a drunk driver that shouldn't have had alcohol in the first place?
Ron Huckaby has gone through something no parent can even imagine. He buried his son. But he can't point the finger of blame at something like cancer or a heart condition, the blame for Joey Huckaby's death goes squarely on the shoulders of an underage drunk driver.
"On January 29, 1989, 2:04pm I was blessed with the birth of my son, Joseph Calvin Huckaby."
These are words that should fill a speech at a wedding or birthday, but they weren't. They were said by a father not to his son, but to his son's killer in court. That father is Ron Huckaby.
19 years ago, Ron saw his sons eyes for the first time
"I remember holding Joey right after his birth." he remembered.
He never dreamed he'd end up holding him right after his death, not 2 decades later.
"Some things I can never do in my life since Joey's death. I can't eat a certain restaurants. I can't listen to certain songs. I can't talk about Joey or remember the good times without crying." Ron admitted.
A lonely spot on a country road near Perry, GA is now a place where Ron, Joey's stepmother Kay and other friends and family can remember Joey.
"It's tough. Every time I come, it's tough." Ron said as he walked up towards the site where his son was killed. A sign and a cross mark the spot where he died. Today, it's a memorial. November 5, 2006, it was a crime scene.
Joey was sleeping in the back of a truck driven by Alan Sinyard. They were traveling down a country road when the truck went off the road.
"He jerked his wheels and dirt piled up. He just started flipping. My son was in the back seat. He was slung out of the vehicle." Ron told us
Joey didn't survive the crash.
"I fell to my knees. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't do anything. I could not believe it." Ron said with a pain that seems as fresh today as it did the day Joey died.
Another passenger was seriously hurt. The driver, Alan Sinyard, survived with minor injuries. Hardly a scratch.
He may have had minor injuries, but he would face serious charges.
That's because 20 year old Alan Sinyard was drunk. His blood alcohol level was .157, twice the limit for someone over 21 and 8 times the limit for a minor. And this would be his 2nd DUI.
"I have lived in torment with grief and the torture over the loss of Joey, at the hands of a repeat DUI offender." Ron said with a bit of anger in his voice.
Yes, Alan Sinyard had a previous DUI. And he still chose to get behind the wheel of his truck after drinking. A choice that left Ron Huckaby with a hole in his life.
"I just think I never got to say goodbye."
Sinyard eventually pled guilty in Houston County court to vehicular homicide. He was sentenced to 20 years, 10 he'll serve at the Valdosta State Prison.
Now the only place Ron can talk to his son is at his graveside.
"This is the last place I saw him go in the ground." as he walked around Joey's graveside. " This is where I spend my holidays, Thanksgivings, Christmas and Joey's birthday."
Ron's experience with death from a drunk driver is not only personal, but also professional. For 22-years, he's served in law enforcement trying to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors, Ron never dreamed his family would become a victim of the very thing he works so hard to stop.
He wants to speak out because there are other Alan Sinyards out there. Other people who may cause another family the greatest grief known to man. "When I put Joey in the ground and I watched the coffin go in the dirt. A large part of me was buried that that day too."
It's a pain and a burden, he doesn't want anyone else to ever have to shoulder.
"We will never have the opportunity see our son again on this earth and never be able to celebrate his birthday or holidays with him in a warm loving home, but instead it will be at a cemetery looking down at a cold, granite tombstone."