A son of one of the 13 members of the First Baptist Church of New Braunfels in Texas killed in a bus crash on their way home from a church trip on March 29 has filed a lawsuit against Jack Dillon Young, the driver officials say caused the crash, seeking more than $1 million in damages.
The suit seeks damages for the defendants' negligence and gross negligence, charging Jack D. Young with smoking marijuana, texting while driving, consuming prescription pills and failing to maintain control of the pickup he was driving when he crashed into the bus carrying the beloved church members. It also urges the Texas legislature to enact a statewide prohibition on texting while driving.
"His conduct involved an extreme degree of risk and he had actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved, but nevertheless proceeded with conscious indifference to the rights, safety and welfare of others," the lawsuit drafted by attorneys Charlies Sullivan of Canyon Lake and Jeff Seely of Houston said.
The deadly crash occurred at about 12:25 p.m. on March 29 along U.S. Highway 83 North just south of Ranch Road 1050 in Uvalde where Young's pickup truck crashed into the church's bus carrying 14 members. The group of older adults were on their way home from a three-day retreat at the Alto Frio Baptist Encampment. Rose Mary Harris, 64, of New Braunfels was the lone passenger on the church bus to survive.
Court records cited by the San Antonio Express-News say Young revealed after the crash that he had been texting and had taken two pills of Clonazepam and generic forms of the prescription drugs Ambien and Lexapro. He was also found with pot.
Sullivan explained that Ross Allen, a resident of Fischer in Comal County, is expected to be named executor of the estate of his father, a widower who has two other surviving children.
"Time is always of the essence in an accident like this. You want to have an opportunity for your investigators to get all of the information that they can possibly get," Sullivan told local news outlets on Tuesday.
"One of the most important things for my client is to help raise awareness about the texting-while-driving issue," he added.
Texas is among four states that don't prohibit texting while driving, the lawsuit says.
"Ross pleads to the Texas House of Representatives and the Senate to pass the no-texting-while-driving legislation currently being considered and that the governor promptly sign the bill once it passes," it explained.
No other lawsuit is reported to have been filed on behalf of any of the other victims in the deadly March crash.
The Texas Department of Public Safety identified the complete list of deceased church members as: Murray William Barrett, 67; Howard Bryan Allen, 81; Rhonda Barlow Allen, 61; Barber, 87; Margret Robinson Barber, 82; Mildred Goodlett Rosamond, 87; Addie Maurine Schmeltekopf, 84; Sue Wynn Tysdal, 76; Martha Holcomb Walker, 84; and Dorothy Fern Vulliet, 84, all from New Braunfels. Others who died in the crash are: Cristie Clare Moore, 68 of Cibolo, Texas; Donna Elizabeth Hawkins, 69 of Schertz, Texas, and Avis Scholl Banks, 83 of Austin, Texas.
[Video below contains strong language]