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Man who drove under the influence gets 55 years for fatal Texas church bus crash

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.

Death of man arrested for DUI ruled homicide

The death of a 51-year-old man who stopped breathing after a struggle with a Dolton police officer and hospital staff at Advocate Christ Medical Center earlier this year has been ruled a homicide, officials said.

Solomon Agwomoh, whose wife, as special administrator of his estate, is suing Dolton over his death, was taken to the Oak Lawn hospital in police custody on March 10, suspected of driving under the influence following a two-vehicle crash in Dolton.

The father of four from South Holland apparently became agitated and combative at the hospital after staff attempted to perform a CT scan. As a result, he was shocked with a stun gun, restrained facedown with handcuffs and injected with a cocktail of sedatives, according to a recently released autopsy report.

Within minutes, Agwomoh had stopped breathing, and within the hour, he was pronounced dead, according to the report.

The cause of Agwomoh’s death was multifactorial, an assistant medical examiner determined, the result of heart disease involving high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries, exacerbated by the stress of a physical struggle.

His death was ruled a homicide, a spokeswoman for the Cook County medical examiner’s office explained, because the struggle involved another person.

“In general, when death involves a combination of natural processes and external factors, preference is given to the non-natural manner of death,” spokeswoman Natalia Derevyanny said.

Bob Napleton, a lawyer for Agwomoh’s family, called the autopsy results “very revealing” and said they were consistent with allegations made in a lawsuit he filed against Dolton just days after the incident.

“There is no doubt the taser device deployed by the Dolton Police while Mr. Agwomoh was in their care, custody and control played a major role in Mr. Agwomoh’s death, per the report,” Napleton said in a statement.

Dolton Police Chief Robert Collins said he had not seen the autopsy report and did not wish to comment on it. At the time of the incident, Collins said the officer who used the stun gun had done “everything by the book,” and reiterated that he stood by his earlier remarks.

“Everything that I initially told you is still true,” he said. “The officer (was) following his training and acted properly.”

A spokeswoman for the hospital declined comment on the incident, saying it was Advocate’s practice not to comment on “open investigations.”

On the day of his death, Agwomoh, who drove for Chicago Carriage Cab Company, was involved in a crash with another vehicle at the intersection of Cottage Grove Avenue and Sibley Boulevard in Dolton around 12:38 a.m., according to police reports.

Agwomoh was driving west on Sibley in a red Ford Escape taxi when he attempted to make a “sudden” left turn onto Cottage Grove and was struck by a passing eastbound driver, police reports show. Dolton police, who reviewed dashcam video from Agwomoh’s cab, wrote in their report that the crash happened because he “failed to yield the right away to through traffic.”

Police found Agwomoh unconscious behind the wheel of his car. He eventually regained consciousness, but “appeared to be in a delusional state,” and initially refused to exit his vehicle, according to police reports.

Police found a plastic cup near the driver’s seat area that contained a suspected alcoholic beverage, and as a result, an officer went with Agwomoh to the hospital to conduct a driving under the influence investigation, reports state.

Toxicology reports later showed that Agwomoh’s blood alcohol level was .194, more than twice the legal limit for driving.

While at the hospital, the Dolton officer intervened after Agwomoh became combative with staff, began “yelling odd statements” and tried to force his way off of a stretcher while en route to a CT scan, according to reports.

The officer attempted to subdue Agwomoh using his stun gun’s “drive stun” function — which involves pressing the device against an individual without deploying its dart-like electrodes —but when that failed, he deployed his stun gun cartridge, reports show.

The stun gun embedded two barbs into Agwomoh’s abdomen but did not incapacitate him, and he lunged at the officer, according to reports. The ensuing struggle ended only after hospital security staff assisted in restraining Agwomoh and medical staff injected him with sedatives, reports show.

Minutes later, Agwomoh lost vital function and was without a pulse. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead 35 minutes later, according to the autopsy report.

Afterward, hospital staff treated the Dolton officer for post-traumatic stress and a hand contusion. He is described in police reports as “visibly shaken,” displaying “uncontrollable shaking in his hands” and “unfit to drive.”

The officer was placed on administrative leave until the conclusion of an investigation into the incident but has since returned to work, Collins said.

Man driving under the influence hits tombstones

HIGH POINT, N.C. — Oakwood Cemetery is making repairs after High Point police said an impaired driver sped through the property, hitting several tombstones.

Jacoby Arbogast was arrested last Tuesday for the incident.

Joe Sechrest’s family plot was destroyed and he was devastated to hear the news.

“My son hadn’t been here in probably 15 years and it just so happened that he came the same day the incident happened,” Sechrest said.

He said a flood of emotions came over him when he found out what happened.

“The fact that my son was even visiting was heartfelt. And that not only my mom and dad are here but my daughter, which is his sister,” he said.

Something so meaningful to his family was ruined, but Sechrest said he was glad the driver was OK.

“My daughter was killed in a car wreck so all these emotions were pretty much running rampant,” he said.

He’s working to put his family’s plot back in place. The Oakwood Cemetery is a huge part of their family’s legacy and he wants it to remain that way.

His father was a past superintendent of the cemetery and his grandfather a former grounds keeper.

“I came here as a youth quite often,” Sechrest said. “This wasn’t a playground for me. I treated it with a lot of respect so I’m very familiar with it and I come here quite often.”

He hopes that this impaired driving crash will teach everyone to have respect for such a sacred place. The cemetery told us that Arbogast will be responsible for paying the expenses of the wreck.

Drug use played a role in the crash, according to a High Point police crash report.

Man driving under the influence hits tombstones at High Point cemetery, police say

Uber fined $750,000 for letting drivers work after customers complained of drunk driving

Uber fined $750,000 for letting drivers work after customers complained of drunk driving
A shopper at the Grove waits for a ride in a designated Uber pickup zone. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The California Public Utilities Commission fined Uber $750,000 for failing to follow a “zero tolerance” policy on investigating and suspending drivers in response to customer complaints that they were driving while intoxicated.

The fine is the result of a settlement between the commission and Rasier-CA, a company owned and created by Uber to operate its services in California. The settlement approved Thursday was reached after an administrative law judge recommended fining the company $7,500 per violation, amounting to $1,132,500.

The violations were discovered in a Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division investigation that looked at how customer complaints of intoxicated drivers were handled from August 2014 to August 2015.

Uber reported receiving more than 2,000 complaints in that period and deactivated 574 of those drivers in response. But when investigators looked more closely at 154 of those complaints, they found that Uber failed to investigate 133 of them and failed to promptly suspend drivers in all but five of the cases reviewed.

The zero-tolerance policy that Uber agreed to follow is a special exemption for ride-hailing services classified as transportation network companies, according to the proposal adopted by the state agency. Other companies overseen by the commission are required to enroll in a drug and alcohol testing program for their drivers.

The policy mandates that the company have a clearly visible and dedicated phone number or in-app call function for complaints of driver intoxication. It also requires that the company suspend drivers for further investigation promptly after a zero-tolerance complaint is filed.

The investigators found that even when Uber claimed to have suspended a driver, other records indicated that the driver went on to provide three additional rides in the two hours after the complaint was filed. The investigation further found that there was no dedicated button or phone line for zero-tolerance complaints in particular, which introduced an element of human error into the process of deciding which customer complaints required prompt response.

In addition to the fine, Uber agreed to implement an education program on zero-tolerance regulations and file a motion to expand existing regulations and develop stronger standards for the ride-hailing industry.

Drunken driving suspect crashes into construction site

WORCESTER (WHDH) – A 23-year-old man crashed into a Worcester construction site early Thursday morning while drunk behind the wheel, police say.

Officers responding about 12:16 a.m. to a single-car crash in the area of 102 Grove St. saw a 2003 Nissan Xterra under a tangled pile of scaffolding, according to Worcester police.

Police say the scaffolding was positioned in front of the old Northworks building, which is currently undergoing extensive renovations.

During their investigation, officers observed a utility light pole that was knocked down and a parking meter that was bent and noticed that a hydraulic lift received extensive damage to the control panel, mechanical components, and to a tire.

The driver of the vehicle, later identified as Jose Velez, was arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and failure to stay within marked lanes, police say.

Police spoke with two witnesses that had just exited The Fix restaurant and were told that as they were walking under the scaffolding they noticed the Nissan drive through construction cones that had been set up and around the hydraulic lift.

The witnesses said they had to jump out of the way for fear that they’d be hit.

Police: Drunken driving suspect crashes into Worcester construction site