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'I forgive the guy that did this' | Son of man killed in violent hit & run talks about dad's strong faith in God

Those who knew him said Darryl Butler had a strong faith in God and a smile that would never be forgotten.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The son of a man killed in a violent hit-and-run crash in Knoxville described his father was a Godly man who brought joy to everyone he met.

Darryl Butler, 65, was walking along Sutherland Avenue Sunday when he was hit by a driver involved in a police chase. The impact severed Butler's body and his torso was left inside the car, according to investigators.

Butler had been homeless for nearly three years, but with the help of the Volunteer Ministry Center, had moved into an apartment just three weeks ago.

Credit: Mark Butler

Butler's son, Mark, was devastated to learn about the death of his dad on Father's Day.

"He just didn't deserve this," Butler said.

Butler fought back tears as he remembered his father and everything he learned from him.

"That's the peace, that's the part, that's the love and the heart and the legacy that I want to continue for my dad," he said.

Butler clearly made an impact on people.

The Volunteer Ministry Center paid tribute to Butler on its Facebook page, saying "Even though life had not always been easy, Darryl was a bigger than life personality and will be remembered for his smile, contagious positive attitude and always having a story to share with others." 

VMC sadly learned today that one of our neighbors passed away over the weekend as the result of a traffic accident. Daryl achieved housing 2-3 weeks ago and had persevered for over a year to achieve...

If you read the comments on the post, it's clear how loved he was by those he met.

"My heart has been breaking ever since I read that story. He was always singing and smiling. He was a very hard working, kind, generous, I will miss him," one woman said.

Another commented, "Darryl, I hope you are dancing on streets of gold right now. You have reached your forever home my friend. I know you are lighting Heaven up with your smile."

"He would always quote the Bible," said Kim Cantrell, a friend of Butler.

That faith, clearly shared by his son, is helping Mark Butler deal with the tragedy, and even find the strength to forgive. Butler said that's what his father would have wanted.

"I forgive the guy that did this to my dad with 100 percent of my body," Mark Butler said. "Everything that's within me, I forgive him. Just please, tell everybody and tell them that my dad said he forgives them too, please."

Dorrae Johnson faces multiple charges in connection with Butler's death, including vehicular manslaughter. He admitted that he had been drinking.

RELATED: Knoxville man arrested, found with severed torso in car after crash, records show

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