Family says alleged DUI crash that killed teen was preventable
ANTIOCH, Calif. - A heartbroken family of a 19-year-old from Antioch killed by a suspected drunk driver reached out to KTVU to share their story in hopes of preventing others from suffering the loss they're struggling with now.
The California Highway Patrol says the driver who killed Jesaun Benson had three previous DUI convictions.
The young man's family says they now have a void in their lives they can not fill. They're questioning how someone who's been convicted of three previous DUIs can still be driving.
They say the worse part is that the deadly crash was preventable. "He was such a good person. It's hard to imagine what life is going to be like now that he's not here anymore," said Sabrina Benson-Abbitt, Jesaun's mother. "I'm still in disbelief that he's not here."
Benson-Abbitt with her husband Lamont Abbitt by her side, described Jesaun as a loving son and adoring older brother to two younger sisters. She and Jesaun's stepfather say he was vibrant and responsible.
"When me and his mom are at work, he was in charge of homework, that the house was clean," said Lamont, Jesaun's stepfather.
But everything changed at 2:30 a.m. August 12.
Jesaun was driving his green sedan with two friends on Interstate 880 northbound in Oakland near Hegenberger Road when he got into an accident.
Jesaun was standing outside his car when he was struck and killed by another vehicle.
The CHP identifies that driver as 56-year old Maury Butler of Berkeley. Officer's say he was driving drunk, that he'd been previously convicted of three DUIs in the past 10 years and that he was driving on a suspended license.
"He took my son's whole future. He took everything from us and I'm mad. I'm hurt," said Benson-Abbitt. "You hear about these stories on the news. I prayed for so many families. I never thought I'd be here going through this right now."
Jesaun turned 19-years-old in June.
He was eagerly waiting to attend Central State University in Ohio on a full scholarship to study criminal justice. He was considering a career as a probation officer.
"We were talking about when are we going shopping to get ready for dorm life," said Benson-Abbitt.
Butler, the DUI suspect, is being held at Santa Rita Jail with no bail. He faces charges that include murder and felony DUI.
"I hope this guy never sees the light of day again," said Benson-Abbitt. "They need stricter laws when it comes to people with these DUIs. They need more highway patrol on the weekends. Something I don't want any other family to go through this. Our family is shattered, completely shattered now."
Jesaun was just days from leaving for college when he was killed. His family is now planning his funeral.
The suspect is due in court August 29.
Jesaun's family said they plan to attend every hearing. A GoFundMe has been set up to help pay for expenses.