Man gets 55 years for deadly church bus crash

He had pot, seda­tive in sys­tem be­fore caus­ing ac­ci­dent that killed 13

The Dallas Morning News - - State - Staff writer Tom Steele, The As­so­ci­ated Press

A man who was driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence has been sen­tenced to 55 years in prison for caus­ing a crash with a church bus that killed 13 peo­ple in the Texas Hill Coun­try last year.

Jack Dil­lon Young, 21, of Leakey pleaded no con­test in May to 13 counts of in­tox­i­ca­tion man­slaugh­ter and one count of in­tox­i­ca­tion as­sault. A Uvalde County jury sen­tenced him Fri­day af­ter a three­day hear­ing; he had faced up to 270 years be­hind bars.

The Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board ruled last month that Young’s use of mar­i­juana and a pre­scrip­tion seda­tive led to the crash in Con­can, about 80 miles west of San An­to­nio.

Young’s de­fense at­tor­ney, Ro­ge­lio Munoz, ar­gued that doc­tors hadn’t mon­i­tored Young’s med­i­ca­tion use prop­erly and asked the jury for mercy.

Young’s pickup crossed the cen­ter line on U.S. High­way 83 on March 29, 2017, and col­lided head-on with the bus from First Bap­tist Church of New Braun­fels.

The bus driver and 12 pas­sen­gers, who were headed home from a se­nior re­treat, died; only one pas­sen­ger sur­vived. The vic­tims ranged in age from 61 to 87.

Au­thor­i­ties search­ing Young’s truck found un­smoked and par­tially smoked mar­i­juana cig­a­rettes, drug para­pher­na­lia, pre­scrip­tion drugs and over-the counter med­i­ca­tion. Tox­i­col­ogy tests later showed that Young had mar­i­juana and the seda­tive clon­azepam — used to treat seizure and panic dis­or­ders — in his sys­tem at the time of the crash, and he said he had taken twice the pre­scribed dose, ac­cord­ing to the NTSB’S re­port.

Young’s fam­ily mem­bers tes­ti­fied that the fam­ily had been ren­dered dys­func­tional by al­co­hol and drug abuse. Young told state Dis­trict Judge Camile Dubose that a man had been sen­tenced to a lengthy prison term for sex­u­ally abus­ing him and nu­mer­ous other boys. Young tes­ti­fied that he had strug­gled since that episode with men­tal and emo­tional trauma, con­tem­plat­ing sui­cide and tak­ing pre­scrip­tion anti-anx­i­ety med­i­ca­tion as well as self-med­i­cat­ing with mar­i­juana and al­co­hol.

“You can never get the feel­ing of dirt­i­ness off of you,” he said.

Young told rel­a­tives of those killed that he wished he could ease their pain.

“They were beau­ti­ful peo­ple, beau­ti­ful fam­i­lies,” he said, “and I wish ev­ery day that it was me” who died.

JACK DIL­LON YOUNG

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