Texting pickup driver collides with church bus that killed 13

Young man texting and driving

I mentioned in a brief social media posting that my good friend’s aunt and uncle were members of the church group whose bus collided with a pickup, killing 13. Mercifully, his relatives weren’t on the bus and are helping minister to those who suffered such tragic losses.

According to a witness, Jody Kuchler, the driver of the pickup truck that collided with the church minibus in rural Texas, apologized and acknowledged that he had been texting while driving. Kuchler had been following the driver for at least 15 minutes because he saw him continuously swerving out of his own lane. He called the sheriff’s office and told them somebody needed to get the driver off the road before he hit someone.

Sadly, no one was able to stop the driver in time to avoid the fatal crash. Kuchler witnessed the crash and spoke to the driver of the truck, 20-year-old Jack Dillon Young of Leakey, Texas. He asked the driver, “Son, do you know what you just did? He said, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry.’”

The First Baptist Church of New Braunfels, Texas said church members were returning home from a three-day retreat at the Alto Frio Baptist Encampment in Leakey, about 9 miles from the crash.

Most, if not all of the bus occupants were wearing seat belts. The driver and front-passenger seats had three-point-lap-and-shoulder belts, while the rest of the seats only had lap belts. Passengers wearing lap-only belts sitting along the sides of the buses, instead of facing forward, will often hit their heads on the sides of the vehicle or the windows. A frontal crash of this type would be like hitting a brick wall.

Texting and driving laws in Texas – none!

Hard as it is to believe, Texas has no laws prohibiting texting and driving. Texas’ GOP-controlled Legislature approved such a law in 2011 but it was vetoed by then-Governor Rick Perry, who said such prohibitions were indicative of government micromanagement and said educating drivers was the key to deterrence.

According to the National Safety Council, motor vehicles deaths in the U.S. topped 40,000 in 2016, the first time it has been that high since 2007. The number of vehicle traffic fatalities in Texas rose to 7 percent last year to 3,464, slightly higher than the national increase. One in 10 driving fatalities in 2015 was caused by some kind of distraction.

A proposal outlawing texting and driving recently passed in the Texas House but has not yet made it to the floor of the Senate. Here’s hoping that a good piece of legislation is passed and that the current governor understands that texting and driving must be made illegal.

Yesterday was the first time members of the First Baptist Church of New Braunfels met since the accident. The choir was scheduled to lead the workshop, minus 13 members. In addition to praying for the victims, the church also asked that all pray for the young man who was driving and texting.

Please, do not text and drive. It could prevent you from having to live with terrible consequences.

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Source: Chicago Tribune

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