Society

Truck Driver Who Killed 13 Elderly Churchgoers Was High

| by Kit Bryer

A truck driver was allegedly texting and high on prescription medication when he collided with a bus, killing 13 elderly choir members on their way home from a church retreat.

According to police reports, Jack D. Young, 20, was driving erratically on March 31, swerving from the far lane to the shoulder repeatedly. Witnesses called 911 and county authorities a total of eight times in the minutes before the deadly crash took place on Highway 83 in South Texas. 

"He's going to hit somebody head on or he's going to kill his own damn self," one caller told 911 just after 12:00 PM, according to KXAN. "Somebody needs to get this guy off the road."

That caller was right. Minutes later, Young crashed into the church bus.

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"The driver of the bus moved over to the right, but there's a guardrail there," witness Jody Kuchler told KXAN. "There was nowhere else he could go, and they hit head on."

Kuchler had been following Young, concerned the swerving would lead to an accident. As one of the first people on the scene of the crash, he sprang to action.

"The elderly people that was in that bus, them women that was still alive, none of them was crying," Kuchler, becoming emotional, continued. "None of them complained. None of them asked for help. They just looked at me whenever I told them to hang on, help is on the way."

After Kuchler eventually made his way to Young's truck, he was shocked at what Young had to say. 

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"I said, 'Son, do you know what you just did?' He said 'I'm sorry. I was texting.'"

Authorities said that 12 people died on the scene and one other passed away from injuries later in the hospital. Young was released from the hospital on April 4, though the extent of his injuries is unknown. 

In an affidavit signed by Texas Trooper Scott Hewitt, Young apparently confessed while in the hospital to having taken pills before getting behind the wheel. Young allegedly took two doses of Clonazepam, as well as a generic dose of Ambien and Lexapro. 

Ambien is a sleep aid; drowsiness is a common side effect of both Clonazepam and Lexapro. 

Five marijuana joints were also found in Young's truck, three of which had already been smoked. 

"The suspect also stated that he was distracted by his cell phone at the time of the crash," Hewitt wrote, according to My San Antonio.

Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Johnny Hernandez told My San Antonio that the crash is still "under investigation" and that a decision on whether or not Young will be criminally charged won't be made until the investigation is complete, a task that could take up to a year.

Sources: KXAN, My San Antonio (2), / Photo credit: Associated Press via My San Antonio

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