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Victim's Family Pushes for Tougher License-Revocation Laws

A man charged in a roadside wreck that killed an Apex man a year ago had been charged the night before with DUI and having a revoked license.

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APEX, N.C. — The family of an Apex man killed a year ago in a roadside wreck is calling for stricter penalties for drivers who get behind the wheel after their license has been revoked.

Jimmy Knowles had pulled off to the side of the road near the intersection of U.S. Highway 64 and N.C. Highway 751 in Chatham County on March 24, 2007, and was hit by another vehicle as he was climbing back into his truck, according to his family.

"My life, it just stopped that day," said his wife, Portia Knowles. "One minute he was here, the next minute he was gone."

Alfred John Ryan, formerly of Pittsboro, was charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle and reckless driving to endanger in Knowles' death. He is scheduled to go to court next month.

But Knowles' family and friends are furious that Ryan had been arrested the night before the wreck and charged with driving while impaired and driving with a revoked license. He was convicted of those charges in January and placed on probation, and is now appealing the case.

"The system failed Jimmy Knowles," Portia Knowles said. "We need to have a law to take care of the people that are driving without a license."

Family friend Allison Blackman said he saw plenty of similar cases during his 30 years as a Raleigh police officer.

"(The laws) aren't strong enough at all," Blackman said. "It doesn't protect the citizens of North Carolina, and I think the legislature needs to look at that."

The anniversary of Jimmy Knowles' death is especially painful, as it falls the day after Easter, his family said.

"Jimmy was the biggest kid on Easter," Portia Knowles said, noting the family always held a huge egg hunt.

"When it was a holiday, that was time you spent as a family," daughter Danielle Knowles said.


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