AUSTIN (KXAN) — Parents of the 22 year old hit by a car early Sunday morning in north Austin are struggling to understand the circumstances of the crash, as they prepare to take their son off life support.
Tahjai Jackson was hit around 2:30 a.m. in the 11400 block of Burnet Road. Medics with Austin-Travis County EMS say they performed CPR on the man and took him to St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center where he’s remained in critical condition.
On Tuesday evening, his parents were preparing to take him off life support due to the extent of his injuries.
“Tahjai is on life support and Tahjai is not going to survive this. Period. That’s what it is,” explained his mother, Gina Jackson. “My son is no longer going to be here, and that is killing me. We have to let Tahjai go. I don’t want to let Tahjai go, but I have to. He’s suffered way more than enough. So, I gotta let my baby go. I’ve got to,” she said, crying.
The victim’s father expressed the same distress.
“I never knew, in a million years, that I would have to bury one of my kids. I thought they would have to do that to me,” said Hedwich Wynaar, his father.
Austin police said the driver stayed on scene and was investigated for possibly driving while intoxicated. Police say he was cleared. The driver was, however, cited for driving with an invalid license.
Jackson’s parents told KXAN they are concerned about safety in the area where the crash occurred and believe speed was a factor in the extent of Jackson’s injuries.
“All I want to understand is if you were driving 45 miles per hour, how the hell did you break my son’s neck in half? You [were] coming way faster than that. You killed my child,” his mother said.
The victim’s aunt lives in Austin and says she, too, believes speeding has become common in the area.
“I’m very familiar with the area because I take that as an alternate route when MoPac is too busy,” said Daisy Colon. “I know it’s a typically dark area, but there is a speed limit in that area, as well.”
APD has not said whether they believe the driver was speeding. If Jackson dies, we’re told police will re-investigate and see if any other charges will be filed against the driver.
For now, the family says they are trying to come to grips with what has happened and what it means for their family, while sharing with the world their loved one’s passion: cooking.
“Never in a million years would I imagine that my 22-year-old baby will no longer talk to me ever again. I will never hug him ever again,” his mother said. “I want people to understand that this boy had a passion about him. He meant what he said when he said he was going to make it in this world, and he did. He did.”
Jackson came to Austin three years ago from New York City. His mission? Fulfill his dream of becoming a professional chef.
“When we got to the Cordon Bleu in Austin, and that boy walked inside that place, he was like a little kid in a candy store. That was his passion and that’s what he wanted,” she added.
The 22 year old graduated from the culinary school in January. He was living and working in the area of the Domain, near the location where he was hit. His family says he did not drive and had no desire to learn how because he could get to everything he needed by walking.
“I was so proud of this kid. You know, he came out to Texas. He went to school. He had a full-time job. He paid his rent. He just was a great kid,” his mother said.
Now, his parents are struggling to understand why he couldn’t live long enough to open his own restaurant or become a chef to celebrities, like he dreamed of doing.
“Everything is [taken] away from me. The whole dream that we had… It’s just gone,” his father said.
The family has set up a GoFundMe page in an effort to get their loved one’s body back to New York for burial. If you’re interested in donating, click here.
Update: Jackson died on Friday, March 24. His family said he passed away on his own.
Unlicensed Drivers & Pedestrian Safety
In Austin, unlicensed drivers account for a significant percentage of crashes on area roadways. In 2015, 32 of the more than 100 deadly crashes involved a driver with a suspended or invalid driver’s license. Last year, in 2016, that trend continued with 17 percent of unlicensed drivers tied to serious injury crashes.
In the last two years, nearly 60 people were hit and killed walking on Austin roads. City officials say that’s why they want to make infrastructure safer. They say they plan to use funding from the mobility bond to help pay for more crosswalks, sidewalks and pedestrian signals. We’re told they are also trying to receive feedback about problems they see on their way to work or school.