News 12 First at Five / Monday, March 19, 2012
BURKE COUNTY, Ga. -- A 20-year-old is dead, his two friends still in the hospital after a young man lost control of his car and slammed into a tree this weekend.
"Everything changes now," said David Jackson. "I've got to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life."
He admits he and his friends made a decision that changed four families forever.
The crash happened Saturday around 1:30 a.m. on McManus Road near Highway 25 in Burke County. Jackson said he and his friends were drinking before they decided to take a spin in Taylor's car at speeds well over 100 mph.
"We got up to 140, 150. We saw a sharp, sharp curve coming up, I said, 'Slow down, slow down, Billy. Slow down, slow down.' But he didn't."
Georgia State Patrol troopers said 22-year-old Robert Taylor was behind the wheel of his Firebird Pontiac TransAm when he lost control of the car and slammed into a tree.
"When we flipped, I got ejected from the car," Jackson said. "So did Billy [Taylor]. I fell, hit the ground. I don't remember anything after that."
Passenger Michael Collins survived the crash with minor injuries. The fourth young man, 20-year-old Dustin "Tyler" Durham, died at the scene.
"All I can think about is, he shouldn't have been the one to get killed in that car. I should have."
Jackson is barely able to move in his hospital bed and still can't believe his best friend is gone.
"I'm paralyzed from the waist down," Jackson said. "I've got two broken ankles. I've talked to five different doctors, and they said I'm not walking ever again. It's like a waste of a life."
A waste of a life, he adds, all while trying to live life too extremely.
"Don't drink and drive. Don't get in the car with people who have been drinking or doing pills," he said. "You can die real quick. It ain't nothing to play with. Your life can be taken in a matter of seconds."
Georgia State Patrol Trooper Chris Calhoun said charges have not been filed in this case.
"The accident is still under investigation by the Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team," he explained.
GSP troopers told News 12 this weekend that they also believe alcohol was involved in the crash.
Taylor is still in the Intensive Care Unit at GHSU Medical Center. Jackson says it will be hard to forgive his friend -- and himself -- for the accident.
Jackson's Mom, Ruby Newman, refuses to leave her son's hospital bedside.
"We've got a long road to go. We're gonna have to take it one day at a time. Be there for each other. Baby steps."
Baby steps she hopes her teenage son can take emotionally; steps that, physically, may be impossible for him.
Jackson is scheduled for surgery on Wednesday. Doctors at GHSU Medical Center are trying to implant metal plates in his back so he can at least sit up in a wheelchair eventually.
"Please keep us in your prayers. Especially Tyler's family, and Billy's."