NTSB report: Driver swerved under influence, better seat belts needed after bus crash killed 13
Final report releases details, recommendations following 2017 church bus crash
SAN ANTONIO – A detailed and disturbing report released Tuesday concluded the investigation into a Uvalde County bus crash that killed 13 members of a church in New Braunfels.
Jack Dillon Young, 21, was found to be driving his pickup truck under the influence on March 29, 2017, when he crashed head-on into the bus.
Over a span of 15 minutes, witnesses called 911 about a white pickup truck driving erratically on Highway 83 near Concan.
One of the witnesses recorded Young on video crossing the yellow center line 19 times and drifting into the right shoulder 35 times before smashing head-on into a church bus.
The driver and 12 seniors from First Baptist Church New Braunfels died in the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board reported Young was driving under the influence of marijuana and a double dose of the prescribed sedative Clonazepam, which is used to treat seizure and panic disorder.
"We need more and better data to determine what initiatives can most effectively fight the upward trend in drug-impaired driving," said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwait. "The driver in this crash made terrible choices with tragic consequences, but the rising tide of drug-impaired driving didn't begin with this driver, and unfortunately it will not end with this driver."
The 800-page report also contained an interview with the lone survivor, who described the horrific scene in the bus.
"When I opened my eyes again, the bodies were thrown around. It has not been a happy time. I'm glad I'm spared, but what am I spared for? People who come to visit, family members didn't make it, I can only tell them the truth. They didn't suffer," she said.
The report also showed the bus did not have passenger lap/shoulder belts, which would have provided more protection.
NTSB officials made the following three recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- Develop oral drug screening devices law enforcement can use during roadside stops
- Promote the importance of attending drug-impaired driver enforcement training
- Make lap/shoulder belts standard, rather than optional equipment on buses
NTSB officials determined national leadership is needed to help identify science-based countermeasures that can be implemented at the state and local levels to prevent future similar tragedies.
Young was indicted on manslaughter charges and pleaded no contest. He's expected to be sentenced next month.
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