Witness: Driver in Uvalde County crash admitted texting while driving


A witness said the driver of a pickup involved in Wednesday’s fatal crash had been texting.

Jody Kuchler followed the driver and called authorities to report he was driving erratically.

After the crash, Kuchler said the driver told him, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I was texting.’

The driver of a pickup that collided with a church minibus in Uvalde County, killing 13 members of a church in New Braunfels, apologized after the crash and acknowledged he had been texting while driving, a witness said Friday.

Jody Kuchler told The Associated Press he was driving behind the truck and had seen it moving erratically prior to the Wednesday collision on a two-lane road about 75 miles west of San Antonio, near the town of Concan. Kuchler said the truck had crossed the center line several times while he followed it.

Kuchler said he witnessed the crash, and then he checked on both the bus and the truck and was able to speak with the pickup’s driver, who has been identified by the Texas Department of Public Safety as 20-year-old Jack Dillon Young of the nearby town of Leakey.

“He said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I was texting.’ I said, “Son, do you know what you just did? He said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’” Kuchler quoted the pickup driver as saying.

SEE ALSO: ‘Hard to comprehend,’ Uvalde crash rattles New Braunfels church

DPS Sgt. Conrad Hein declined to comment Friday on the cause of the crash or if texting might have played a role. But officials have said the pickup’s driver appeared to have crossed the center line.

Twelve people died at the scene and another bus passenger died at a San Antonio hospital, authorities said. The sole surviving bus passenger, Rose Mary Harris, 64, of New Braunfels, was taken to San Antonio Military Medical Center, where she was in critical condition.

Young also remains hospitalized.

Kuchler said he called the sheriff’s offices for both Uvalde and Real counties while he followed the truck.

In a 911 call to the Real County sheriff’s office obtained by the American-Statesman, Kuchler can be heard telling a dispatcher that the pickup was heading north toward Concan and was “all over the road.”

“He’s going to hit somebody head on or he’s going to kill his own damn self. Somebody needs to get this guy off the road,” Kuchler said in the call.

Kuchler called about 12:07 p.m., about 20 minutes before the crash.

Real County Constable Nathan Johnson said that a woman also called the county’s dispatch to report a truck was driving erratically in the same area shortly before the accident. The same woman also called back to report the wreck.

The National Transportation Safety Board has sent investigators to look into the crash.

“We’ll be looking at drivers of both vehicles – whether there was fatigue, distraction, impairment; the mechanical condition of the vehicles; the highway they were operating on; and the driveability and crash-worthiness of the bus,” safety board investigator Jennifer Morrison said Friday.

RELATED: Callers reported truck driving erratically before crashing into bus

The bus was equipped with seat belts, Morrison said. The driver and front-seat passenger had typical three-point seat belts; all other passengers had lap belts, she said. It isn’t yet clear if the bus passengers were wearing seat belts.

The wreck occurred along a curve in the road where the speed limit is 65 mph, according to DPS officials.

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

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Hope Outdoor Gallery plans a big move in 2018
Hope Outdoor Gallery plans a big move in 2018

For six years, the downtown HOPE Outdoor Gallery has elevated Austin’s street art and graffiti scene and has become an integral part of the city’s creative spirit. It’s been the site of dozens of marriage proposals and countless music videos, baby announcements and family portraits. But now the gallery on Baylor Street is moving to...
Giving City: Nonprofit to create new clinic for HIV/AIDS
Giving City: Nonprofit to create new clinic for HIV/AIDS

This month, AIDS Services of Austin announced it would build the city’s first comprehensive, centralized medical home dedicated to treating and preventing HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The new clinic, which is scheduled to open in the spring on Cameron Road in Northeast Austin, would provide medical and preventive care for HIV-positive and...
Teacher accused of telling student ‘go back to Mexico’ is put on leave
Teacher accused of telling student ‘go back to Mexico’ is put on leave

About 120 parents Friday morning packed the library at Fulmore Middle School, seeking answers days after a campus protest in which students accused a teacher of telling a student to “go back to Mexico.” At the meeting Friday, parents pushed for details on what actions the district had taken against the teacher, some calling for her to be...
Susan Combs hits another roadblock on her way to Washington
Susan Combs hits another roadblock on her way to Washington

Former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs has hit yet another roadblock on the way to a U.S. Senate vote for a top position at the Interior Department. Her expected confirmation to be assistant secretary for policy, management and budget was already delayed by a logjam involving GOP senators over Environmental Protection Agency nominees. Previously, her...
DPS identifies motorcyclist killed on U.S. 79 near Hutto
DPS identifies motorcyclist killed on U.S. 79 near Hutto

A motorcyclist who was killed in a crash Thursday on U.S. 79 east of Hutto has been identified as 55-year-old Michael Bradford Simms of Austin, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Simms was traveling west on U.S. 79 when he crossed into the eastbound lanes and drove off the road, officials said. He fell off the left side of the motorcycle...
More Stories