Families of fatal crash victims show compassion for 22-year-old Young
Jack D. Young, 22, who testified last week that he deserved to spend time in a state prison, was sentenced Friday to 55 years in the Criminal Justice Texas Department.
At the conclusion of the three-day hearing, family members of the victims killed in the Concan-area crash hugged Young and offered words of encouragement.
The punishment was handed down in the Uvalde County Courthouse by 38th Judicial District Judge Camile DuBose.
“There is no hatred in this room, and that is not always the case,” remarked DuBose after hearing victim impact statements.
“You should take that and hold it close to your heart,” DuBose said to Young.
“There is no winner in this case,” said Dawn Tysdal, daughter of crash victim Sue Allen Tysdal. “I hope this sends a statement that we are taking a stand against impaired driving.”
Young’s use of marijuana and misuse of prescribed medication is said to have caused him to crash into a church bus on March 29, 2017, killing 13 of 14 senior passengers from the First Baptist Church of New Braunfels. Two hours after the crash, Young tested positive for Clonazepam and marijuana.
On May 31,Young pleaded no contest to 14 two-count indictments for the crash. Young faced up to 270 years in prison.
Charges included 13 counts of intoxicated manslaughter with a vehicle and 13 counts of manslaughter, as well as one count of intoxicated assault with a vehicle and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Young’s sentence was pronounced after two and a half days of testimony from first responders, relatives of victims, the sole surviving bus passenger, Young, and individuals speaking on behalf of Young.
Young’s defense attorney, Rogelio Muñoz of Uvalde, said his client’s troubled childhood led him to turn to drugs to deal with his trauma. During his time on the stand, Young said marijuana was a socially acceptable drug among his family and peers, unlike methamphetamine or heroin.
Daniel Kindred, 38th Judicial District Attorney, said Young may not have set out to kill anyone on the morning of March 29, 2017 – but he did intentionally take drugs and get behind the wheel while impaired.
Out of respect for those with differing opinions, the majority of the victim’s relatives chose not to offer DuBose a suggested punishment, but they all agreed Young needed to suffer consequences for his actions.
Ruby Rayborn, whose mother, Martha Walker, perished in the crash, expressed sympathy for Young.
“Jack could have been any one of my brothers,” Rayborn said, referring to three brothers who struggled with alcoholism. “I look back in my life, and I’m grateful I didn’t kill anyone when I drove home blindly drunk or high.”
Rayborn said there was a reason, one only God knows, that Young and Rose Harris survived the fatal crash.
With regard to a punishment, Rayborn said, “I can’t put a number on that. I just know this is not worth another life.
Rayborn said she was expressing an opinion she believes her mother would have agreed with.
“I firmly believe I’m giving you what she would have said,” Rayborn said.
Jerry Jones, son of Rose Harris, said, “Everyone refers to my mom as the only survivor, but that isn’t true. The Rose Harris that I knew before March 29, 2017, did perish, because that Rose Harris is no more.”
Jones said he and his two brothers now serve as Harris’ caregivers.
When Rose Harris took the stand, she spoke of her life prior to the crash, the impact and how Young’s decision to drive impaired has affected her life.
Harris moved to Texas from Michigan in July of 2015. She began regularly attending the First Baptist Church and chose to join after meeting Cristie Moore, her best friend and roommate during a retreat at the Alto Frio Baptist Encampment in Leakey.
The crash occurred on U.S. Highway 83 North, 1.7 miles south of Farm-to-Market Road 1050 in Uvalde County as the group headed home from the three-day retreat. Young was traveling home to Leakey from Uvalde, where he picked up prescription medication to treat depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Harris said she was looking out the window and marveling at the beautiful Hill Country landscape when she heard a collective gasp from other bus passengers.
“When I turned around the truck was in the bus,” Harris said, noting that she began calling out to her friends.
“I started calling for Sue, Dawn, Avis; nobody would answer me. I knew not to call who was next to me, because I could see,” Harris said, referring to Moore.
When 38th Judicial District Attorney Daniel Kindred asked Harris to describe Moore’s state, Harris declined.
“… I saw what I never want to repeat,” Harris said.
After a month-long stay in the hospital, Harris said she began rehab and now relies on her sons to care for her.
“It was painful, and I have a lot of pride, so it was hurtful as well,” Harris said of her rehabilitation. “I couldn’t do nothing for weeks but pray. But God is good, sir. Trust in him and he will heal you,” Harris said.
To Young, Harris said, “He can do it for you, too, sir.”
When Young’s parents took the stand they each described failing their two children due to substance abuse, which led to neglect and physical and emotional abuse.
“Instead of trying to break the cycle, I wallowed in it. I didn’t think of my son or my daughter,” said Laurie Davis, Young’s mother.
“Yes, I failed him big time. I was consumed by drugs. I put my kids in bad situations” said Ben Young, Young’s father.
Chelsey Young, Jack’s older sister, said she and her brother were exposed to drugs at a young age, noting that Laurie Davis provided Jack Young with pills when he was in fourth grade.
“I have forgiven them, but it doesn’t make the pain go away. And look at where we are now. Look at where he is now… I never thought it could reach this far. I thought it just damaged us,” Chelsey Young said.
Jack Young’s aunt, Jeanie Young, spoke of Young’s sexual abuse by Leakey resident Kerry Blackman, who had raped a then-12-year-old Young. Blackman is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence.
“[Jack Young] said every time he drove down 83 he could smell Copenhagen, and it reminded him of when Blackman was on top of him,” Jeanie Young said.
“At first, I suppressed it a lot. As a straight male I didn’t want to admit it to myself. It made me feel, for lack of a better word, disgusting … You never get that feeling of just dirtiness off you,” Jack Young said when he testified.
“I look at the video, and I don’t know how I didn’t realize … somehow I didn’t realize how I was driving,” Jack Young said.
Jack Young expressed remorse to the relatives of victims.
“I wish it could have been me. They didn’t deserve it … I am sorry for what I took from y’all,” Jack Young said.