Jack Dillon Young sentenced to 55 years in prison for fatal church bus crash

Young apologies to victims' families

UVALDE, Texas – A Uvalde County judge sentenced Jack Dillon Young to 55 years in prison Friday for driving a pickup truck that slammed head-on into a New Braunfels church bus, killing 13 people.

He could have faced up to 270 years for the March 2017 crash on Highway 83 near Concan.

The sentence came after almost three emotional days of testimony, including Young apologizing to the victims' families.

"They were beautiful people. I'd trade my life to bring them back," Young said of the First Baptist Church New Braunfels members who died. 

The defendant testified that he was sexually abused when he was younger, causing him to take medication and later illegal drugs and alcohol.

Young's parents, Lori and Ben Young, testified Friday, telling jurors that they raised a son in a dysfunctional family and about their lifestyle, which was fueled by drugs and alcohol.

Young's older sister testified the lifestyle came with mental, emotional and physical abuse. The defendant's family asked for mercy and said that despite Jack's life being damaged, it is salvageable.

Federal investigators said the crash was the result of Jack Dillon Young texting and driving, and being under the influence of prescription pills. 

The sentencing included a finding that Young's truck was a deadly weapon, which means he must serve half of his sentence before he's eligible for parole.

After the hearing, Dawn Tysdal, who lost a family member in the crash, spoke to the defendant.

"We shared our love for him as a brother in Christ. We told him that we love him and forgave him, and we do. We mean that from the bottom of our hearts," she said.

About the Authors:

Paul Venema is a courthouse reporter for KSAT with more than 25 years experience in the role.