State & Regional

Driver of truck that killed 13 church members gets 55 years

UVALDE, Texas (KXAN) — The driver convicted of crashing into a bus filled with New Braunfels church members and killing 13 of them will serve 55 years in prison.

Young will have to serve half of the sentence before even being considered for parole.

"Jack Young did not intend to kill anyone that day when he got up. However, he did intend to become very intoxicated and he did intend to drive a car which resulted in those deaths, he must be held responsible for that," said Uvalde District Attorney Daniel Kindred.

Jack Young took the stand to testify at his sentence hearing on Friday. Young's truck ran head-on into the bus last year.  

On the stand, Young says he was sexually assaulted as a child and ended up being admitted into a mental hospital to deal with the pain.  

“I did therapy with all of the groups that they had, I saw a psychiatrist and around the fifth day they squared off on my medication and from that point, it continued until they released me,” said Young on the stand.  

Young says he was later diagnosed with PTSD, chronic depression, anxiety, and insomnia. With his diagnosis, he was prescribed several medications. To cope with his pain, he admitted to the judge he would smoke marijuana every day.  

“I never looked at it as something should be illegal. I know now what consequences it could have, even being involved in that sort of lifestyle. If I would have known that marijuana could have led to this, I would have never touched it,” said Young. 

Related Story: Driver involved in deadly church bus crash pleads no contest

On the day of the crash, Young says he was sleepy before he decided to drive to Uvalde. He admits he took his prescription medication and smoked marijuana the night before, but did not consider himself impaired or intoxicated.  

He also says he didn’t realize that he was driving all over the road just before the crash. “I look at the video and I don’t know how I didn’t realize. I look at it every single day and I wish I hadn’t.” 

On the stand, Young addressed the family members of the victims, repeatedly apologizing.  

“I can’t put it in words how sorry I am. I wish there was something I could say, anything that would make it even the slightest bit that less painful. I don't know what I could do, I don’t know how many times I pray to God and wish it could have been me,” Young said. “They didn’t deserve it, if anybody, it should have been me. I’ve tried to kill myself before, and I don’t get why...they were beautiful people and have a beautiful family.” 

Young continues, “I pray every day, every day I pray for y’all and hope that God can make the pain a little less. I understand, and I agree to being punished. If I had a choice to step away and have nothing happen, I would choose prison.” 

After the judge handed down Young's sentence, family members were able to speak to him. Many chose to give him a hug and tell him they forgive him. 

"I told him, you do well in there and you can be out of there before those 55 years and you can have a productive life," said Peggy Grantham, whose mother was killed in the crash. 

If Young is released early, he will have the remainder of the 55-year sentence to serve on parole. 

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