KINGSTON, Tenn. (WATE) — Life hasn’t been the same for Kristi Freels since losing her son, Joshua A. Freels, who was in a fatal drag racing crash on Orchard Valley Drive at Dyllis Road in May 2019.
“I have to keep my mind busy. I’m constantly working but most of the time I’m literally laid up in my room and I’m just really depressed,” she said.
Other family members expressed their memories of Joshua.
“He was something,” added Deborah Stevens, Joshua’s grandmother. “I brought him home from the hospital when he was born.”
It hasn’t been easy for Kameron French either. His brother, Austin J. French, died the same day as Joshua.
“I miss him every day,” Kameron said. “I have days where it’s really rough then I have days where it’s not as bad but it’s hard.”
Both Austin, 18, and Joshua, 16, were killed in a drag racing crash along Orchard Valley Drive in Harriman. Kameron was riding in the car as well.
“All we have is a headstone with a name on it or a crash site with a cross with their name on it. We don’t have them. We don’t get to talk to them because somebody wanted to act stupid behind the wheel,” Kameron said.
Holden Melton, 19 at the time, was driving when he lost control of the vehicle on a downhill curve and slammed into a tree claiming the lives of the two teens.
“There’s no justice for them,” Kristi said. “There’s no justice for the family. We have to spend the rest of our lives without our sons and they get to have, after 60 days he’s free to go and it’s just not fair.”
Melton is also sentenced to four years of supervised probation and 200 hours of community service. He must pay a $500 fine and he will lose his driver’s license for three years.
“The evidence was already there. It happened because of negligence. I feel like he should have gotten more jail time or if not, prison time but I mean there’s nothing that’s going to happen now,” Kameron said.
According to Kameron and others, Melton did not show any remorse at all during his court proceedings for killing his brother and good friend.
“A lot of us, we handled it well after we heard the sentencing,” said Sheyenne Freels, Joshua’s sister. “Half of us just ran out of the courtroom because we wanted to hold ourselves back so we didn’t ruin it.”
With new Tennessee laws in effect, Kristi says the judge’s hands were tied when it came down to Melton’s sentencing.
She added, “I feel like karma will pay the price on that so like I say when karma comes, I feel sorry. I have to live on. I’m not happy with the sentencing one bit but I have to move on.”
Both families are urging everyone to cherish the memories of their loved ones and to be smart when getting behind the wheel.