Special Assignment: Man who lost son to drunk driver speaks out

By: Jeff Anderson Email
By: Jeff Anderson Email

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."

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  • by Ernestine Location: Clayton, NC on Nov 15, 2008 at 10:29 PM
    I know your pain because I just buried my only child four days ago. She was 18 and almost home (I heard the crash). A 29 year old drunk driver crossed the center line. DA says she could get off with probation. Please God, how is that fair? How do I survive this? The pain is too intense, but I know that if I kill myself I will never see my sweet girl again in Heaven.
  • by Michelle on Nov 7, 2008 at 09:57 AM
    I can relate! My brother was one of those who killed someone and is serving a sentence of 13 years. During his time in prison, he lost his only son of 21 years to a vehicle accident. My brother did what we call the unspeakable. Not only does he have to accept the responsibility of taking another life, he has to endure that he wasnt a good role model for his son, which whom has passed. The families on both sides are the victim. My heart goes out to you, especially in times of what you had once hoped would be great memories... We all have to stand in honor of those lost. Although my brother is alive, he is in prison. His life is forever changed, just as yours. The failure is in the hand of the government that has failed us both. The 1st DUI should have been the last. You lost a child, and I have lost a brother, life isnt what we want it. I will be praying for you and your family. One day peace will come....
  • by Bill Dikant Location: Castleton, N.Y. 12033 on Nov 7, 2008 at 03:21 AM
    Ron, I wish you all the Strength in you endeavours.It is a long and tough road to travel.Been there and still trying to get the word out about D.W.I. Bill Dikant, Victim Advocate Castleton, N.Y. 12033
  • by diane Location: Ga on Nov 6, 2008 at 09:37 PM
    You should blame the system. the first DUI he should have done some time. I have seen things like that everywhere, Iam with MADD, If they do some time, they would think about it before they do it again.
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