A motorist 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 South Texas 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 judge sentenced him Friday after a three-day sentencing 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 75 miles west of San Antonio.
Young’s pickup crossed into oncoming traffic on U.S. Highway 83 on March 29, 2017, and crashed head-on into a bus from First Baptist Church of New Braunfels.
The driver and 12 passengers, who were headed home from a choir 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 seizures 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.
A 14-minute video recorded by a witness showed Young weaving onto the shoulder 37 times, across the center line 19 times and at one time completely onto the wrong side of the road, according to the NTSB.
The footage ends just before the curve where Young’s truck slammed into the bus.
Young reportedly told a witness afterward that he had been texting at the time of the crash.
A summary of the federal agency’s report said Young may have been using his phone but that “this action would not explain the prolonged and continuous erratic driving behavior seen in the witness video recording leading up to the crash.”
Defense attorney Rogelio Munoz argued doctors hadn’t monitored Young’s medication use properly and asked the jury for mercy.
His relatives testified that their family was plagued by drug and alcohol abuse.
Young told the judge that he had self-medicated with alcohol and marijuana and contemplated killing himself after being sexually abused as a child.
“You can never get the feeling of dirtiness off of you,” he said.
He also told relatives of the victims that he wished he hadn’t caused them such pain.
“They were beautiful people, beautiful families, and I wish every day that it was me” who died, he said.