James Fofanah was only 20 years old when he was fatally struck by a suspected drunk driver.
He was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he pulled over on a North Texas freeway to help a couple that was stranded on the side of the road.
But now, his surviving family members are battling the state in the hopes that they will get to be the ones to bury their son in accordance with their Sierra Leonean culture.Screenshot/Fox 4
James was a former foster child, but after his 18th birthday, he had “aged out” of the system.
When his biological parents got word of the tragedy, they contacted Child Protective Services in an attempt to reclaim their estranged son. James’s father, Foday Fofanah, called CPS, saying:
“‘My family, we have a culture we honor and everything. Are we allowed?’ I called yesterday over 30 or 40 times and no response back.”
Despite these allegations, CPS told Fox 4 that they were working on a way to allow “all of those who loved him to honor his life.” CPS further reported in a statement that:
This young man came into foster care as a child because he was mistreated by his caregivers to the point where his parents’ rights were terminated. CPS was legally his family.
James’s biological family have a different account of the reason for their son’s foster care. They claim that James was actually a “troubled teen who lashed out against his parents,” unable to be disciplined.Screenshot/Fox 4
However, James’s foster parent, Franklin Harris, supported the CPS statement, adding that James had grown into a responsible adult. He was enrolled in college and had recently reconnected with his biological siblings.
His former foster family added that they weren’t surprised to hear the cause of James’s death, as helping others was so in sync with his personality.Screenshot/Fox 4
“We’re going to honor him like the media has honored him and said he was a hero. Then let that hero be with his family when he leaves here.”
James’s birth family hired lawyers to file for an emergency injunction that would force the state to release their son’s body to them. They are still waiting to hear if the injunction has been approved.
The state-arranged funeral for the good Samaritan was scheduled for 10 a.m. on Thursday.