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

"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 said.
Credit: Michel Alfaro

TYLER, Texas — A senior Tyler Legacy High School band student has died following severe injuries during a Friday night wreck in which a man has been charged with intoxication assault.

Jason Charles, 24, was booked into the Smith County Jail on an intoxication assault causing brain injury (vegetative state) Saturday on a $200,000 bond, according to jail records. 

Police said Lillian Dawn Thornburgh, 17, was severely injured in a two-vehicle wreck in the 2800 block of South Broadway Avenue Friday night. She died Sunday (three days before her birthday) from her injuries.

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. 

A fellow Tyler Legacy band senior Elizabeth Lamont said Thornburgh was going to turn 18 on Wednesday and she was one of the sweetest, funniest people she knew. 

Lamont and Thornburgh have known each other since middle school, and she said Thornburgh was someone that could always cheer people up.

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

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

She recalled that they would have fun by going to Walmart to play hide and seek and Marco Polo.

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. 

"She was never an awkward moment. She always broke that awkward silence within the friend group. It was always fun times with her," Lawrence said. 

He said they would hang out together on the weekends and text every day. She made people smile with her goofy personality. 

She also had a strong hard work ethic, and if she wanted something she’d get it done, Lawrence said.

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

Lawrence added the past four years were the best of his life because of hanging out with Thornburgh.

A person who is found guilty of intoxication assault could face between two to 10 years in prison and may have a fine of no more than $10,000, according to the Texas Penal Code. 

If a victim is killed while the other driver is intoxicated, the charge could be upgraded to intoxication manslaughter, a second-degree felony. This type of offense is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine that does not exceed $10,000. 

Tyler police spokesperson Andy Erbaugh said charges for manslaughter are pending at this time, and an autopsy will be completed as the investigation continues. 

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