Thu, Oct 17, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Grieving parents decline Trump offer to meet with their son’s alleged killer

‘LITTLE BIT OF HOPE’:The couple said the US president softened his stance after their meeting and indicated that he could take another approach to solving the impasse

The Guardian, WASHINGTON

British parents grieving their teenage son have said that, during a visit to the White House on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump dropped the “bombshell” that the woman who allegedly killed him in a road crash was waiting for them in an adjoining room.

Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn turned down the rushed offer to meet Anne Sacoolas, describing it as “not appropriate” with no mediators or therapists present.

Their son, Harry Dunn, 19, died in August in a head-on collision between his motorcycle and a car being driven on the wrong side of the road, police in Northamptonshire, England, said.

Sacoolas was allegedly driving the car and, claiming diplomatic immunity on the basis of her husband’s job, flew back to the US.

Dunn’s parents traveled to New York this week to urge Sacoolas to return and engage with a police investigation.

They were surprised to receive an abrupt invitation to the White House in Washington on Tuesday — and even more taken aback by the offer that came without prior warning from Trump.

“The bombshell was dropped soon after we walked in the room: Anne Sacoolas was in the building and was willing to meet with us,” Charles told reporters after the meeting, which lasted 10 to 15 minutes.

“We made it very clear that, as we’ve said all along, we will meet with her and we would still love to meet with her, but it has to be on our terms and on UK soil,” she said.

“We were a bit shocked, but it didn’t really make any difference to us, to be perfectly honest. She could have been two miles away; it’s just she was in the room next door,” Charles said.

“Our grief’s been locked in for several weeks. It’s not appropriate to meet her without therapists and mediators for us as a family, but also for her. How can it be comfortable for her to be thrown into a situation like that without therapists and mediators?” she added.

Asked if they regarded the plan as a “stunt,” Tim Dunn hesitated before saying: “No, I don’t think so. I would think maybe they were trying to force it on to us, but I still think the president was sincere at the end when he spoke to Charlotte.”

At first, Trump also flatly ruled out any possibility of Sacoolas returning to the UK, without giving a reason, but he signaled a possible shift later in the conversation.

The couple also praised his warm and compassionate manner, saying that he held Charles’ hand.

“When we first got there, he extended his condolences to us, which did feel sincere. I don’t suppose we would have expected anything else. Many of his staff also did the same on the way in,” Charles said outside the White House.

“We then went round in circles a little bit, because I think they were trying desperately to get us to give in, to accept the invitation to meet her on their terms, which we weren’t willing to do,” she said.

“So, upon leaving the meeting and ending the meeting, I said: ‘If it was your 19-year-old son, or your son no matter what age, you would be doing the same as me.’ And he actually grabbed hold of my hand little bit tighter and he said: ‘Yes, I would be. Maybe we’ll try and push this from a different angle,’” Charles said. “There’s that tiny little bit of hope that he will take another look and maybe work harder for us.”

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