The 21-year-old driver who was formally charged last June for a crash that killed 13 members of the First Baptist Church of New Braunfels, Texas, lost control of his truck due to use of marijuana combined with his misuse of prescription medication, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.
“The pick-up truck driver in this crash made terrible choices with tragic consequences,” NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt said in a news release. “But the rising tide of drug-impaired driving did not begin with this driver, and it will not end with him. Law enforcement needs additional tools and advanced training to detect impaired drivers before they crash, regardless of the impairing drug they’re using.”
The driver, Jack Dillon Young, is currently facing up to 270 years in prison for the crash after he pleaded no contest to manslaughter charges in June.
On March 29 at about 12:25 p.m., Young’s pickup truck crashed into the church’s bus carrying 14 members, including the driver, along U.S. Highway 83 North, just south of Ranch Road 1050 in Uvalde. The church members were a group of older adults who were on their way home from a three-day retreat at Alto Frio Baptist Encampment. Rose Mary Harris, 64, of New Braunfels, was the lone passenger to survive.
Prior to the collision, the NTSB, which does not release the names of parties involved in crashes, noted that the young driver was observed by witnesses driving erratically for more than 15 minutes. Their report also noted that the church bus was not equipped with passenger lap/shoulder belts which would have provided a greater level of protection for passengers who were seated at the back of the bus.
An inspection of the cab of Young’s pick-up truck after the crash revealed unsmoked and partially smoked marijuana cigarettes, drug paraphernalia, and prescription and over-the-counter medication, the NTSB said. Young’s post-crash toxicology test results also revealed the presence of Delta-9-THC, a primary active chemical in marijuana, and clonazepam, a sedative used to treat seizure and panic disorders. Young said he took twice his prescribed dosage of clonazepam prior to the crash.
Young, who is expected to be sentenced next month, pleaded no contest to 13 counts of intoxication manslaughter and one count of intoxication assault.
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Source: Christian Post