Church bus crash victim's daughter speaks about drugged driving

- Texas AAA said drugged driving has surpassed drunk driving to become the number one impaired driving problem.

In Central Texas we saw horrific results of that new trend when 13 people onboard a church bus were killed. Tuesday the daughter of one of those victims shared her story with law enforcement.

"I never wanted this to be my story.  And I never wanted this to be my cause,” said Jessica Melott.

Melott spoke before an audience of law enforcement officials Tuesday about the impact drugged driving has had on her family.

“When you chose to take or elicit prescription drugs and you play by your own rules and you get behind the wheel. Nobody wins. There's never a winner,” said Melott.

Melott's loss was her mom, Rhonda Allen.

On March 27th Allen left for a senior trip with 13 other members of her New Braunfels church.

"I said goodbye to her in the parking lot as I was dropping my daughter off at school and told her to have a great time,” said Melott.

On the way home, the bus was struck head on by a truck driven 20-year-old Jack Dillon Young.

Only one person on the bus would survive.

A witness got this video showing the truck crossing over the road's white edge line 37 times in the 14 minutes leading up to the crash.

Troopers said Young admitted to taking the sleep aid Ambien, Lexapro which is an anti-depressant and Clonazepam which is used to treat anxiety and seizures.

He also said he was distracted by his phone.

In addition, troopers found marijuana in the center console.

"It wasn't until after 9 p.m. on Mar. 29th that it was confirmed that my mother and 12 others from our First Baptist Church had not survived the collision,” said Melott. "The grief and the waiting the room that day as the DPS officer read off the names of the deceased is something I'll never forget and on nights when I can't sleep it plays over and over in my head."

According to Texas AAA drugged driving has surpassed drinking and driving as the number one serious impaired driving problem.

TxDOT statistics show from 2010-2016, there was a 47% increase in crashes where drugged driving was a contributing factor. During that same time period there was a 22% increase in drugged driving fatalities.

"What we're trying to do is come up with solutions, talk with the experts and get this conversation going on how we can get more officers trained so we can enforce drugged driving. And make sure we get those who choose to make those bad decisions off our streets and make our communities safer,” said Texas AAA Spokesperson Daniel Armbruster.

Melott is doing her part by speaking to young drivers.

"If good can come from the fatal crash of my mom's wreck, then I hope that's what it can do,” said Melott.

Here in Austin our number one substance found in the system of those stopped for drugged driving are depressants including Valium, Xanax and Ambien. Marijuana is a close second.
               


 

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