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Man accused in wreck that killed Tyler Legacy student charged with intoxication manslaughter

An intoxication manslaughter charge is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine that does not exceed $10,000.

TYLER, Texas — A man accused of driving intoxicated and causing the death of a Tyler Legacy High School senior is now facing an intoxication manslaughter charge.

Jason Charles, 24, has been in the Smith County Jail since Saturday on an intoxication assault charge. According to jail records, his charge has now been changed to intoxicated manslaughter with a vehicle in connection with the death of Lillian Dawn Thornburgh, 17.

An intoxication manslaughter charge, which is a second-degree felony, is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine that does not exceed $10,000.

Thornburgh, 17, a band student at Tyler Legacy, was severely injured in a two-vehicle wreck in the 2800 block of South Broadway Avenue Friday night. She died Sunday from her injuries. Her 18th birthday is Wednesday. 

Charles, who was driving a black Chevy Silverado, struck the rear of a white Dodge Ram that Thornburgh was driving. Both drivers were travelling northbound, police said.

The collision caused Thornburgh's car to roll and strike a tree. She was taken to UT Health by EMS and passed away Sunday, according to police. Charles was transported to UT Health by EMS and later arrested. 

An online fundraiser has been set up to help the Thornburgh family. As of Wednesday morning, the GoFundMe has raised over $13,000 out of $15,000.

Credit: Michel Alfaro

"The Thornburgh family will need all of the love and support from those around them to help them during these difficult times and I hope and pray that this fund and the contributions generated can in some way ease some burden on the family," the fundraiser summary reads. "All donations will be given directly to the Thornburgh family."

Her friends described her as one of the sweetest, funniest people and a person always trying to cheer others up. 

"If you needed anything, she was there to make you laugh or just make you feel better. She was the most amazing person," her friend Elizabeth Lamont said.

In the band, Thornburgh played the saxophone and bassoon, Lamont said, adding that her friend really loved the saxophone. 

Since the wreck, there has been an outpouring of support for Thornburgh and her loved ones. 

"Lilly would be so happy to see the people that loved her. As sad as it is, she would be happy to see that so many of her friends really cared about her," Lamont said.

Tyler Legacy senior Corey Lawrence said since meeting Thornburgh during their freshman year, there was never a dull moment as she was always making people laugh. 

"All the memories that were made with her it was fun," he said. "It was never dull, lovely and vibrant. That is one of the biggest things that I will miss about her." 

RELATED: Tyler Legacy band student dies after Friday crash involving man accused of driving intoxicated

RELATED: Palestine man charged with intoxication manslaughter in crash that killed pedestrian

 

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