Family of Harriman hit-and-run victim pleads for justice

Family of Harriman hit-and-run victim pleads for justice

Posted:
James Kirkland (source: family) James Kirkland (source: family)
Troopers believe a logging truck hit the car Kirkland was driving and kept going. Troopers believe a logging truck hit the car Kirkland was driving and kept going.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

HARRIMAN (WATE) - The family of a Harriman hit-and-run victim is making a plea for justice.

The accident happened in broad daylight on Highway 61 just east of Harriman around 1:30 p.m. on June 30.

Troopers believe a logging truck hit the car James Kirkland, 65, was driving and kept going.

Kirkland fought for his life in the hospital for nearly a month.

"Sunday morning he just lost the battle. He couldn't do it anymore," said his widow, Connie Kirkland.

She had been with him for more than 50 years.

"As far as justice, they just need to come forward. They have destroyed everybody's life here. They took the man I've loved all my life. They took my children's father, my grandchildren's grandfather," she said.

Kirkland's family says he was headed to Oak Ridge east on Highway 61, near Elverton Primitive Baptist Church, when he saw the truck coming at him around a curve. 

"I talked to him in the ER," said his son Blake. "He just told us that a logging truck had come across the center line into his lane and he said he did everything he could do to avoid a head-on collision and at that point he looked at me and he said, 'Blake, I want you to find the guy that did this.'"

Those were the last words James Kirkland ever said.

"We actually did a lot of leg work to motivate the authorities to get involved. We went around talking to people, witnesses, and pointing them in the direction of the Highway Patrol," Blake Kirkland said.

And he's not giving up. 

"I don't think it's ever too late. Somebody knows they were on that road that day on June 30th at 1:28 p.m. If you're not guilty of a crime, come forward. Just apologize to us and let us know you're sorry for what you did," he said. "It would give us closure."

Funeral services for James Kirkland will be Thursday at 7 p.m. at Kyker Funeral Home in Harriman.

The Highway Patrol is urging anyone with information about the deadly crash to call 865-594-5800 extension 2112.

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