Family of DUI Victim Mourns Daughter During Holiday

By: Rob Pratt
By: Rob Pratt

Knoxville (WVLT) -- As police step up efforts to keep roads safer during the holidays, a recent deadly crash involving an alleged drunk driver with a long history of DUI’s has led to calls for tougher drunk driving laws.

On November 10th, Joan Marie Arrington, 40 was killed in a crash on Dandridge Pike, less than a mile from her Strawberry Plains home.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol says Roy Wayne Killion Jr., caused the wreck when he came across the center line.

He was charged with driving under the influence and vehicular homicide.

Killion has at least four DUI convictions dating back 11 years and had a suspended license at the time of the accident that killed Arrington.

With such a long criminal history, you might assume that Killion would be behind bars, but he has never stayed in jail for more than 120 days for any of his previous convictions.

We talked to Joan’s family about that.

They are still understandably heartbroken, but determined to see that the death of their daughter will lead to change

Joan Marie Arrington was a daughter, a mother of two, and a hard-working woman who worked overnights at the post office.

Her father Gary Austin lived next door to her and he got to the crash scene in time to speak with her one last time.

"She said ‘Dad, I can't breathe’”, said Gary. “’She said get me out of here,’ there was nothing we could do, There was nothing the rescue crew could do."

Her haunting words lefts her grieving father asking what could the law have done?

Could anything have prevented the wreck that left Arrington's two children, 13-year-old Tricia and 8-year-old Trey, without a mother?

Killion's driver's license had been suspended, most recently for three years in 2005, but still he was on the road.

"It's beyond comprehension how something like this can happen in this day and time, with computers and the way you can track people,” Gary said. “I just don't understand why the government, why the state don't get tougher laws."

Austin says he will likely add his voice to those who go to capitol hill in Nashville.

"Hopefully they can see our hurt and hopefully they can help the next person, because there is a next person,” Gary said. “Somebody's out there walking around and they don't know it yet, but they're going to have to go through what we went through and what we're going through. You know, it's never going to be over. This has ruined our lives."

Will any real change come?

We talked to Tennessee senator Tim Burchett who said he does expect some tough new proposals next year.

Those may include tougher mandatory sentencing.

As the law stands now, the longest sentence Killion could get is 25 years and he'd probably do less than a third of that time if convicted.

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  • by Kim Location: East Tenn on Nov 24, 2007 at 07:17 PM
    I'm sure this man did not have a driving liscense. But he still got behind the wheel drunk- The laws have to change- Elections are comming up- I guess we have to make alot noise to get the attention of the politicians who can help change the laws. I agree- this man should spend the rest of his life behind bars.
  • by diana Location: east tenn on Nov 24, 2007 at 10:33 AM
    I did not know this woman but, I cried for her, that man deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison for murder because not matter how you look at it that is what is was, Maybe he did not pick up a gun and shoot her but he got into a car (deadly Weapon) and killed her, They do not do anything to people that have got DUI's My sister-in-law is 37 years old, she has not had a driver license since she has been 18 because she has had so many DUI's, Wrecks due to being drunk, they will not give them back, She lived in north Carolina and the Police would stop her and Instead of taking her to Jail they would drive her Home, wouldn't even impound the car they knew her, and when she come to visit her in east tenn, she got drunk, and wrecked her husbands van, she went to jail for 1 day then they threw it out because they lost the lab work, she has been doing this for 17 years, So the Government Should Fix the Laws, Put those killers and would be killers in Prison.
  • by tina on Nov 22, 2007 at 05:43 PM
    Just another example of why TN needs to have stiffer penalties for DUI offenders!!!
  • by Judy Location: Strawberry Plains TN on Nov 22, 2007 at 12:04 AM
    I do not think the man should be allowed to ever drive a car for the rest of his life.He has shown he has no respect for other peoples lives.He should stay in jail for at least the 25 years he may get. Then we might be safe from him killing again.No drunk driver should be allowed to get so many DUI'S and not be in jail,more than a120 days.It could of been me or other members of my family as we travel that road almost daily we new Joan and she was a wonderful mother and friend and we will miss her.And it is not fair that her children do not have their mother this Christmas ,just because he decided to come to our neighborhood drunk. I hope he has along time in prison to think about what he has done,and never have another restful nights sleep.I pray God helps Joans family thru all that they face in the future.
  • by Gail Location: Oak Ridge on Nov 21, 2007 at 08:08 PM
    This is such a tragedy. One that should not have happened. Mr. Killion should never have been on the road behind the wheel of a car. This was NOT an accident, it is a crime! He knew what he was doing. I hope Mr. Austin is successful in changing the DUI laws - they need to be much tougher. I, for one, will add my voice to his. Only when enough people are fed up with this and let their voices be heard in Nashville will the DUI laws get tougher. I urge each and every one who reads this to write or call their state senators and state representatives and demand a change. Tell your friends, family, neighbors, etc. to do the same. If you drive, if anybody in your family drives, or a friend drives then this same thing could happen to you. In other words it could happen to anybody at any time! These multiple DUI offenders need to be jailed for the length of time the law states and NOT be allowed to plea bargain. I will keep this family in my prayers.
  • by Gail Location: Cosby, TN on Nov 21, 2007 at 08:03 PM
    I am a fortunate one. I have not had a child murdered by a drunk driver. But I am the mother of one of the paramedics who tried to save this woman. I see the agony they suffer because they couldn't save her. They are grieving also. I am in full support of this family and will do everything I can to help them. This could have been avoided. I am so angry that she had to die. Every person who drives under the influence is endangering inocent lives. It is my oppinion that anyone caught driving drunk should go straight to prison. They know the laws and chose to break them. Why give them a chance to do it again, you know they will. Drunks don't need a license to drive. You can't stop them that way. I think we should all band together and work to get some changes made. When a person can have 5 offenses the laws are not working. We have to stop these people from killing and a revoked drivers license won't do it. With deepest sympathy for the family, Gail Williams


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