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Harry Dunn’s death connects Salida woman with British family

Across the pond


Misty Morris, pictured, is campaigning for the extradition of Anne Sacoolas. - COURTESY OF MISTY MORRIS
  • Courtesy of Misty Morris
  • Misty Morris, pictured, is campaigning for the extradition of Anne Sacoolas.
The family of a British teen who, according to UK police, died after a vehicle driven by the wife of an American diplomat collided with his motorcycle, has found an unlikely ally: A stay-at-home mom in Salida with no personal connection to the family or their home country.

It’s the kind of story that could only take place in the age of the internet.

Misty Morris says she first heard about 19-year-old Harry Dunn through Sky News, a London-based TV channel and website she’d started following after Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire months earlier.

“I think one of the reasons why I was drawn to Harry’s case is he reminded me, in a way, of my oldest son,” Morris says. “My oldest son’s a big, tall boy like that, you know.”

Morris was shocked to learn that Anne Sacoolas, the American driver who UK police said had collided with Dunn outside a Royal Air Force base in central England, had claimed diplomatic immunity to avoid going to trial — even though British prosecutors said she had been driving on the wrong side of the road.

According to media reports, Sacoolas returned to the U.S. about three weeks after Dunn’s death. She was charged with dangerous driving by the Crown Prosecution Service, which conducts criminal prosecutions in England and Wales, in December. Dunn’s parents have appeared frequently on British news to demand that Sacoolas face trial.

Dangerous driving comes with a possible 14-year sentence in the UK. Sacoolas’ attorney, Amy Jeffress, has told media that potential sentence would be out of proportion considering the accident that had taken place.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel sent a formal extradition notice for Sacoolas to the U.S. Justice Department on Jan. 10, but Sacoolas’ lawyer and American officials have not indicated that she will return, Sky News reports.
Morris, a mother of four boys, was moved by the tragedy and wanted to help the Dunn family. She reached out to Radd Seiger, the family’s spokesperson and adviser in the UK. Together, they came up with a plan to raise awareness of Harry’s case among Americans.

On Dec. 29, they launched a social media campaign: “Americans for Justice 4 Harry.” The Facebook page had 380 members as of Jan. 13.

Harry Dunn (pictured as a toddler) died after an August collision. - COURTESY OF AMERICANS FOR JUSTICE 4 HARRY
  • Courtesy of Americans for Justice 4 Harry
  • Harry Dunn (pictured as a toddler) died after an August collision.
So far, Morris says, most of the work has consisted of spreading awareness online. But the group has brought people together from all over the U.S. who support Sacoolas’ extradition.

“I think his being so young and having such a long life ahead of him, that it’s really just tragic, and I think that speaks to a lot of people,” Morris says. “And I think also the fact that he was a motorcyclist. I know a lot of people are passionate about motorcycles and they have kind of this unspoken brotherhood-type thing.”

Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, met with President Donald Trump at the White House in October. CNN reported at the time that Trump surprised the parents with an offer to meet with Sacoolas, who was waiting in another room. The parents denied the offer and said they would only do so after she had returned to England.

Jeffress released a statement around the same time saying that her client was “terribly, terribly sorry for that tragic mistake” and wanted to apologize to the family, CNN reported.

A spokesperson for U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Sky News on Jan. 9, and reiterated that the U.S. had no plans to extradite Sacoolas to the UK.

“These comments come as no surprise,” Seiger, the family spokesperson, said in a statement the same day that was posted in the Facebook group. “The US Government continues to behave lawlessly, flouting international law and abusing its power. We have all come to expect that of them and the whole world, including all decent Americans, is watching their behaviour in disgust.”

The “Americans for Justice 4 Harry” Facebook group description asks members not to bash Sacoolas, following the recommendation of the UK’s crown prosecutor. But group members have expressed frustration with a system that allowed her to avoid facing trial.

“It is known and accepted that this was an unintentional, horrible accident,” the description notes. “However, accidents have consequences and we implore Mrs. Sacoolas to own her mistakes and take accountability for her actions.”

So far, group members have encouraged one another to write to the White House but haven’t yet organized any protests or meet-ups on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, though there’s been talk of a motorcycle procession in Dunn’s honor.

“Because I’m a mom of four kids and I have so many things going on here, I can’t travel as much,” Morris says, acknowledging that Salida — about a two hours’ drive southwest of Colorado Springs — is “kind of out of the way” from where most of the others live.

“Geographically I’m probably not in the best location, but thank goodness for the internet,” she says.

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