NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Friday morning, a 71-year-old man was killed after a car crash on Nolensville Pike with a 13-year-old behind the wheel of the other car.
Metro police said the unidentified boy had been in a hit-and-run just before hitting David Cheatham in front of the O’Reilly Auto Parts near Haywood Lane around 9 a.m.
Cheatham’s family said they have been on a rollercoaster of emotions for the past few days.
“We feel as if the wind has been let out of our sails, punched in the stomach,” Cheatham’s daughter, Dia Mimms, said. “For such a selfish, truly selfish, act to take him away is devastating for us.”
The family said they were surprised to hear that not only had Cheatham been killed in an accident, but that such a young boy was charged with his death by police.
Metro police said the 13-year-old driver, upon being released from the hospital this weekend, has been charged with vehicular homicide by recklessness among other charges.
“We don’t even know this 13-year-old but he has forever changed our life,” Mimms said.
Cheatham and his wife, Jenice, were approaching their 50th wedding anniversary in June. She said he was starting to make plans for that special occasion.
“My whole life was turned upside down, my whole life, my whole world,” Jenice said.
At this point, the family said they want justice, although it may be different with such a young person involved.
“Justice for me would be to see that kid acknowledge his mistake, accept it, realize there is a cost and realize that his actions affect anyone and everyone around him,” Cheatham’s son, David Q., said.
But the family said they have fear surrounding the juvenile justice system and whether the punishment will be enough.
“I’m afraid that if something doesn’t change in the system and this young man truly doesn’t get rehabilitated and his family doesn’t truly get rehabilitated, you’re going to have that repeat that he’s done something else and he’s back in the system,” Mimms said.
Cheatham’s family is planning to be in court in April. Mimms said it’s at that time they’re hoping to get answers about how the boy had access to a car in this case.