Distracted driving killed 13 people in Texas last week. A 20 year old man driving a heavy duty pickup truck plowed into a busload of senior citizens on their way to an outing organized by a local church. The tragedy occurred on a Texas highway near New Braunfels. The driver, Jack D. Young, told Jody Kuchler, the first person he spoke with after the crash, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I was texting on my phone.”
Texas does not have a distracted driving law that prohibits texting and driving. A bill to outlaw the practice has passed the lower house of the Texas legislature every year for the past 4 years but has failed to make it out of committee in the state senate. Perhaps this incident will prompt Texas senators to do their sworn civic duty now. Then again, perhaps not.
Kuchler followed Young’s pickup for several miles while it swerved all over the road. His girlfriend, Thania Sanchez, made a video of the erratic driving while she and Kuchler tried to notify authorities that there was menace on the road. Officers has been dispatched to intercept Young’s white heavy duty Dodge Ram pickup but did not arrive in time to avert the tragedy. At one point, a 911 operator got caught up in jurisdictional issues about which county the truck was in rather than alerting local authorities. “I told him we’re talking safety here and they need to get him off the road,” Kuchler said.
“The guy drifted over across the yellow line,” Kuchler said Friday. “The driver of the bus moved over to try to avoid him, but there was nowhere to go with the guardrail there and the truck hit him head on.” Young was trapped inside the cab of his truck. When Kucher got to him, “I told him, ‘Son, do you know what you just did?’ He just kept saying, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry.’”
Kuchler said he couldn’t do much to help the bus passengers. “Nobody that was alive in there was making any noise. They just looked at me and I said, ‘Hang on, help is on the way. None of them said a word. They weren’t crying. They weren’t complaining. They were just sitting there looking at me.” Only one survivor person in the bus survived.
The NHTSB is involved in the investigation into the cause of the crash. Jennifer Morrison of the NHTSB says the video taken by Sanchez “will be part of our investigation. We will not be making any statements regarding the cause of the crash at this time. We are here to gather the facts and the perishable evidence.” Authorities from the state of Texas will also be involved in the investigation.
Kuchler said he and Sanchez are having trouble coming to grips with the emotional strain resulting from what they say that day. “I don’t know if everything has just set in yet. It’s not easy to deal with for either one of us,” he said. “This was preventable. This accident should have never happened.” If the Texas legislature had done its job as it was supposed to, it might not have.
Source: MySanAntonio Photo credit: WXAN News via YouTube