Coweta County woman fights to have headstones repaired after wreck

by: Linda Stouffer Updated:

NEWNAN, Ga.,None - A Coweta County woman is fighting to get her relatives' gravesites restored after a teenage driver plowed into a cemetery two months ago.

"My son said, 'They can't even rest in peace,'" Michelle Klinger told Channel 2's Linda Stouffer.

Four generations of the Watts-McCollough family are buried in historic Oak Hill Cemetery and she wants their markers restored.

Klinger has a repair estimate for more than $8,000, but she's frustrated by delays in getting a check from the insurance company.

Police said on Nov. 26, Carl Anthony Harbin, 17, was on a cemetery joy-ride, going 50 mph when he lost control and crashed.

There were also four other passengers in the car.

Harbin was charged with reckless driving.

Through an Open Records request Stouffer found out Harbin was ordered to attend a driver improvement course, and paid $30 in court costs.

He also wrote a letter of apology to Klinger's family.

Newnan city officials told Stouffer the plots and gravestones are individually owned, so the city is not responsible for the repairs.

Families are encouraged to file claims with the driver's car insurance.

But Klinger said she's has multiple conversations with her insurance company, Southern Casualty Insurance, and got different answers.


But when Stouffer called the company, a representative told her the full repair payment would be delivered as soon as it's processed.

Of the dozens of damaged stones, Klinger is the only family representative to come forward.

Some of the graves are so old the records are outdated.

"These are victims and they can't speak for themselves," Klinger told Stouffer.

Klinger said she is the voice for families who haven't even discovered the heavy damage.

"These people lived and they died, and they are in a better place. But still, there should be some respect," Klinger said.