Krystal’s Slide Show and Victim Impact Statement

Honorable Judge Dearing,

My name is Jo Ann Webb. I am Krystal Duss’ mother. How can I give you a glimpse of the unspeakable, unthinkable, unimaginable despair, pain, suffering and deep grief of having my child killed by a drunk driver? December 9, 2003 seemed like a typical day. I went to work. I teach at a public high school. Krystal and I usually talked on the phone several times a day. She’d call just to say, “hi.” I’d call to see how her day was going and tell her that I loved her. On December 9, Krystal called to tell me her one year old twin sons, Danny and Andy, were having flu like symptoms, and since the pediatrician’s office was closed, she and her husband, Joe, were taking the boys to the emergency room of the hospital.

I talked to Krystal several times that night while she stayed in the car with Danny and Andy while Joe waited in the emergency room waiting for the boys names to be called to see the doctor. Although the boys were already sick, Krystal did not want them exposed to any more illness from sick people in the emergency room. She was such a loving, caring , devoted Mom. She and Joe had tried six years before she became pregnant with Danny and Andy. Around 8:20 pm, I called Krystal from Sam’s Club to tell her I saw some cute pajamas that I was going to get her. I asked her if she wanted blue or green. She said blue. I told her that I loved her and to call me if she needed me. On December 9, 2003, I went to sleep and all was right in my world.
Just after midnight I received a phone call from a Jacksonville sheriff who told me there had been an accident, the babies were fine, but Krystal and Joe were hurt. He told me I needed to go to Shands Hospital immediately. I cried into the phone receiver, “Is Krystal alive?” He answered, “I don’t know.” When Don, my husband, and I reached Shands Hospital, I remembered clinching my stomach in intense pain, physically bent over, begging anyone to tell me if Krystal was alive. Everyone kept saying, “I don’t know.” Finally, Don and I were taken to the, “quiet room,’ and the doctor came in. Her mouth was moving, but I could not comprehend anything she said. I asked her, “Is Krystal alive?!” She answered, “No Mame.”
With those two words, life as I knew it ended. I had known deep grief when my dear 66 year old mother died of cancer, but nothing, absolutely nothing prepared me in any way for the absolute horror, agony and anguish of Krystal being killed. I started screaming the most agonizing cries of pain that I have ever heard. I could not stop, and I remember thinking that I didn’t even sound human, but rather like a tortured, anguished, dying animal. I begged the doctor to let me see Krystal while she was ‘still warm.

Finally I was taken into the trauma room. And there on a flat table was my beautiful Krystal DEAD. How could my young, vibrant, healthy, loving, breathing child be so still and DEAD? She had a large tube down her throat, a white name tag tied to her toe, and was covered to her shoulders with a plain white sheet. I threw my arms around her shoulders, held her and cried, “Krystal come back to me! Krystal, come back to me!” It was like screaming into a vast wasteland, because my baby did not move. She did not respond. She did not answer. Krystal was DEAD. I kept crying, ?Why couldn’t it have been me that died?

I would have gladly taken her place in death, so she could live and raise Danny and Andy.
Much later, getting the willpower to force my feet to somehow move and walk away from my baby was the hardest thing I?ve have ever had to do. Once I walked out of the room the FINALITY of Krystal’s death hit me full force and I started screaming, “I want my baby back, Oh God, I want my baby back!” As I tried to get back in the room with Krystal, several people grabbed me, put me in a wheel chair and wheeled me to our vehicle.

Krystal died at 1:13 am, December 10, 2003, and from the horrid moment the doctor told me she was DEAD, I have been thrown into every parent’s nightmare, except I can not wake up from my nightmare because my nightmare is reality. Krystal was killed by Dianesha Johnson’s decision to drink and drive, and nothing or no one can bring Krystal back to life.
I often wonder how am I still alive? How does my heart continue to beat although my sweet daughter was killed. My grief is so all consuming and unbearable that at times I honestly do not know if I can make it to my next breath. About six weeks after Krystal was killed, I began seeing a grief counselor.

I continue to go to my grief counselor (Dr. Sharon Schulman, 904-824-7733) once a week. I also go to The Compassionate Friends, a support group for parents who have suffered the death of a child. No matter what I do or don’t do, nothing takes the pain away. Not being busy. Not being still. I have actual physical pain in my chest where my heart is. Sometimes my chest is so tight that breathing is physically painful. I suffer from panic attacks, anxiety and nightmares since Krystal’s death. My grief counselor has diagnosed me with Clinical Depression from Krystal’s sudden, untimely death, and full blown Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the trauma of seeing Krystal dead in the hospital trauma room. I take antidepressant medications because of the tradegy of Krystal’s death.

My husband’s (Don) life has changed because he misses Krystal, and he worries about me, and it hurts him to see me in such intense pain and grief.
Because of Dianesha Johnson’s decision to drink and drive, Krystal is DEAD and each and everyone of Krystal’s family members have been devastated and their lives shattered. Joe lost his wife. Danny and Andy lost their mother. All children need their mothers, but especially Danny because he had a stroke at birth that effected the right side of his body.

He has had physical, occupational, and speech therapy since he was three months old. Krystal worked diligently on a daily basis with Danny to help him overcome this hardship. My heart breaks because Danny and Andy had their mother snatched away from them because of Dianesha Johnson’s decision to drink and drive. I KNOW how much Krystal loved her sons, and my heart breaks because she was cheated out of raising them.

Krystal will never have the opportunity to take them to the zoo, go to one of their school activities, go to one of their ball games, take them to the beach, go to parent – teacher conferences, fix them a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, take them to sit on Santa Claus’s lap, tell them bedtime stories, kiss their boo boos when they fall down, meet their first girlfriends, see them graduate from high school, see them go to college, see them get married, or see her own grandchildren. This reality is beyond comprehension.

It is too painful to bear. Both her Dad and I lost our daughter. How does a parent even began to survive such a loss? A parent should die before his child, not the child die before the parent. It is not the natural order of life. Kina, Karen, and Kelly lost their sister, and Risa lost her dearest friend. A sister and dearest friend, who they grew up with and had a history with. A sister and dearest friend who should have grown old with them and shared their adult years with them. Krystal’s four nephews and one niece had their loving Aunt Krystal taken from them. With Dianesha Johnson’s decision to drink and drive, Krystal was tragically and suddenly separated from all of her family by death.

Nothing nor no one can bring our sweet Krystal back to life. Our lives have been forever changed, and we will all carry the pain of Krystal’s death every day of our lives.
Dianesha Johnson is alive and breathing. In prison, she will be part of a community. She can call her family and speak to them; she can write letters to her family; she can even enjoy visits from her family. One day she will be released from prison and continue living and breathing. Krystal, on the other hand took her last breath on December 10, 2003 because of Dianesha Johnson’s decision to drink and drive. Krystal can never call home; Krystal can never write a letter to her family; Krystal can never enjoy another visit with her family. Krystal will never be released from death. Death is irreversible and permanent.

Krystal was a young, healthy 29 year old wife, mother, daughter and sister who had her life taken from her by Dianesha Johnson.
Your Honor, to help obtain Justice for Krystal’s death, I respectfully request that you give Dianesha Johnson the absolute maximum prison time permitted by law. The reason I am requesting that you give Dianesha Johnson the maximum prison time allowed by law is because Dianesha Johnson knew on December 9, 2003 that she was in the driver’s seat when she slammed into Joe and Krystal’s mini-van, yet for 19 months she has not accepted any responsibility and has pointed the finger of blame at her husband. She was offered numerous plea bargains, which she refused. Her lies have cost the State of Florida a lot of money and time .

But more costly and painful, her refusal to accept responsibility and her lies have added additional emotional and mental trauma to Krystal’s family, in addition to the unimaginable, agonizing grief we somehow endure from Krystal’s sudden, untimely death. Your Honor, in addition to giving Dianesha Johnson the maximum prison time allowed by law, I also request that when she is released from prison that she never be able to have a driver’s license, and that she never be granted a hardship driver’s license.
Sincerely,

Jo Ann Webb

The Open to Hope Community

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  • Don Webb says:

    Hi Drs Heidi and Gloria

    I am Krystal’s Stepdad. I was devastated when Krystal died. Not only did I lose a great friend and stepdaughter, but it was devastating to see so many of my family greiving and suffering the loss of Krystal Duss in the DUI crash. I have attached my Victim Impact Statement, as you can see, I was out for JUSTICE.

    Honorable Peter Dearing

    I met Krysal Duss some eleven years ago when I began to date her then divorced mother. All did not start out well, but over the years Krystal accepted me into her family as her stepfather. When the twins were born, I was their grandpa and enjoyed every minute, you see, I am a twin myself. Over the years Krystal and I grew close as only a stepdaughter and stepfather could.

    Krystal would call me and ask for recipes or to brag about her children, then one year old twins named, Danny and Andy. As a matter of fact I was the first to baby sit her infant twins, by myself, when they were just two weeks old. Krystal and I were not only stepdaughter and stepfather, but trusted friends as well.

    The loss of Krystal has been devastating to the entire family; Mom, Dad, Sisters, Close Friends not to mention her Church Family.

    Dianesha Johnson, while in the trauma room, scored a 15 on the consciousness scale which is the highest. Just as conscious as you read and I write this Victim Impact Statement. Dianesha Johnson told the EMT twice she was drinking and driving the night she slammed her vehicle into Krystal and Joe Duss? minivan. That same night she also told the lead investigator she was drinking and driving the night she killed Krystal Duss in a horrific car crash. Dianesha Johnson was right next to Krystal in the trauma room. I know this, because I was there beside Krystal?s dead, lifeless body, as they wheeled Dianesha Johnson, her husband Larry Johnson and Krystal?s husband Joe in and out of the trauma room for x-rays and tests. Dianesha knew early on she killed someone in her drunken state at the wheel of her new Nissin Altama, which she only would drive herself. If she did not hear the doctor pronounce Krystal Duss dead at 1:13am, December 10, 2003, she most certainly heard Krystal?s mother cry, ?I want my baby back!? Dianesha Johnson knew early on she killed someone that night in the crash in which she crossed several lanes and hit Krystal?s minivan head on, at a high rate of speed.

    Dianesha Johnson had no defense. She knew it. If she had pleaded guilty and had taken the plea agreement offered her, which by the way all the close friends and family members signed off on, it would have saved the family and friends of Krystal Duss a lot of great pain and sorrow not to mention the time and expense the state spent preparing the case against her.

    I now come before you, Your Honor, and ask you to go over the Florida sentencing guidelines of 15 years DUI Manslaughter and 5 years DUI Serous bodily Injury because:

    1.) Dianesha Johnson knew she was driving her car that night.

    2.) Dianesha Johnson tried to blame someone else.

    3.) Accepting no culpability what-so-ever, even after guilty verdict.

    4.) No remorse at all! Did not even look remorseful during the entire trial!!

    5.) Not accepting the plea agreement, which all the family members and close friends of Krystal signed off on. Which was (0 – 10 years).

    6.) Pain, depression, anxiety, great grief, that Dianesha caused Krystal?s family members and close friends when she did not admit she was the driver of the of the vehicle that killed Krystal Duss, stretching this into a 18 month ordeal.

    7.) No matter how depressed a physiatrist says Dianesha Johnson is, it is in no way to be compared to the depth and devastating depression and deep constant grief suffered by the family and close friends of Krystal Duss.

    In closing, Your Honor, if there is any way possible to give Dianesha Johnson more than 20 years in prison, then I plead with you to do so. I also ask that you revoke permanently, Dianesha Johnson?s driving privileges for the rest of her natural life in all 50 states of the United States of America.

    Sincerely
    Donald Webb – Krystal?s Stepfather

  • Helen S. Godwin says:

    I have been involved in our local chapter of The Compassionate Friends for over 16 years. When Jo Ann came to us she was almost inconsolable. Her grief was very raw and deep. We gave her a soft place to fall and allowed her to grieve in her own way. I am so pleased that she is reaching out in ways that will benefit many others. She is a strong and loving person and I know she will carve out a new normal for her life. She has worked very hard to do that. I feel she is getting there, but there are times when she does not feel that she is better. I appreciate you letting her share “her story.” That is the path to recovery as both of you know. I did not know Krystal, but feel as if I know her through her precious Mom. I love Jo Ann very much and the precious daughter that is gone from her sight, but not from her life. Sincerely, Helen Godwin

  • Kina Long-Rewis says:

    I am Krystal’s eldest sister (Kina Long-Rewis), and this is the victim impact statement that I read to the judge (at the sentencing hearing):

    – – – – –

    To The Honorable Judge Dearing,

    I would like to thank you for the opportunity to share how the death of my sister, Krystal Long-Duss, has affected my life. I will try my best to find the words that properly describe the pain I am feeling for the tremendous loss of my little sister. For over eighteen months now; I have tried so hard to make sense of this situation, but I haven’t been able to do so. I never imagined that I would lose my little sister to a drunk driver. Krystal is dead; because Ms. Johnson made the decision to drink and drive.

    The lives of every member of my family have been forever affected by Krystal’s death. My parents have suffered the ultimate loss, the death of a child. When I look into the eyes of my mom and dad, there is a spark that is missing. That spark has been replaced with a painful sadness. None of us can understand why this has happened. Krystal had her whole life ahead of her. She was bright, beautiful, and talented in so many ways. She touched the hearts of people with her love and generosity. She was active with her family, in the church, and in the community. With Krystal?s death; there is an empty space in our family, and in our hearts. Krystal was taken away from so many people who love and respect her.

    As a direct result of Krystal being killed; because Ms. Johnson made the decision to drink and drive, I have had to seek professional help. I have been in a depression so deep, that it seemed like there was no way out. It is like being in a dark tunnel, which has no end in sight. Krystal’s death is the first thought I have of when I wake up, and the last thought I have when I go to bed. There are times when I am in such pain, that I can’t see past that moment. At times I have thoughts about how much I want to join her; but I know that I can not do that to myself, my children, or my family. I have had to see a psychiatrist on a regular basis, and I continue to do so. He has me in therapy and on medication for severe depression. After Krystal was killed; I also developed high blood pressure, and my family physician has had to put me on medication for it. I literally have to make myself; live day to day, just to survive. The future seems too painful to face; knowing that I will never see Krystal on this earth again.

    It has taken over eighteen months; from the time Krystal was killed, until Ms. Johnson was convicted for the crimes that she committed. During that time; Ms. Johnson has showed absolutely no remorse or regret for killing my little sister. I attended several of the pre-trial hearings; and when I would leave the courtroom, I would literally be sick to my stomach. On my way home from the courthouse; all I could think about was Krystal being dead, how Ms. Johnson would not tell the truth and accept responsibility for what she has done. Although she was offered a plea bargain during the pre-trial process, she would not accept it. Ms. Johnson knew that her decision to drink and drive; killed an innocent woman and injured an innocent man. But she did not care, and she was still not willing to tell the truth. I feel that she did not care about how a trial would further affect my family. I feel that her actions demonstrate that all she cared about was protecting her self. The lies told by Ms. Johnson; not only made this ordeal a great deal worse for my family, but it also cost the state of Florida a great deal of money. When the time came for the actual trial; I could not believe that Ms. Johnson was still lying and not accepting responsibility for killing my little sister. Not only was she not accepting responsibility for her actions, but she was still trying to blame it on her husband. I have thought to myself, ?How can Ms. Johnson lie and blame her own husband for what she has done? She killed an innocent woman, and expects her husband to take the blame for it.? Every time the defense would lie and twist the truth; it was like having salt rubbed into an open wound. I do thank the Lord, for letting the jury see past the lies told by Ms. Johnson and her attorney. I am grateful that the jury was able to see the truth; past all the lies told by the defense.

    I know that nothing will bring my little sister back; and that hurts my heart, more than words could possibly express. In order for me to find a way to cope with the senseless death of my little sister, Krystal, I know that I have to see justice served by the court. Justice for Krystal is what I am seeking. Krystal can not speak for herself, and that is why I am writing this letter to you. Krystal was a real person, not a statistic. Although forgiveness can come later; right now is the time for justice. Without justice; I know that I will not be able to find the peace in my heart, to help me cope with the loss of my little sister.

    I have strong feelings about the sentence that Ms. Johnson will be serving. It is important to show her that there are severe consequences for making the decision to drink and drive. I do not want my sister’s death to be in vain; I do not want the situation to be swept under the rug, like it never happened. Ms. Johnson did spend the night of December 9, 2003; drinking and driving, and her decision to do that is why my little sister is dead. That is why I am asking the court for the following things; in memory of my little sister. I feel that Ms. Johnson should serve the maximum number of years in prison that the law allows, with no chance of early release. Ms. Johnson made the decision to drink and drive which killed my little sister, and I feel that she should never be given the privilege to operate another motor vehicle. I would also like to see a marker placed in memory of Krystal; at the scene of the crash, it should be paid for and maintained by Ms. Johnson.

    Krystal’s death will have a life long impact on my family. I feel that for justice to be served; Ms. Johnson must be held accountable for what she has done. My family has already lost so much; Krystal was taken from us, and all we can do now is hope and pray for justice.

    I have tried to help my family through this ordeal; it has been my way of not dealing with my own feelings about losing my little sister. I know in my mind that I have to deal with my feelings, but I do not know how to do that. I think of Krystal all the time, and I want her back. Although I do know she is dead; and that she can not come back, I just can not accept it in my heart. I want my sister back! I do not know how to tell my heart, what my mind already knows. My mind knows Krystal is gone, but my heart just can not accept that. The thought of never seeing her again, on this earth, is just too much for me to deal with.

    Sincerely,

    Kina Rewis
    (Eldest sister of Krystal Long-Duss)

  • Angel says:

    Jo Ann:

    The impact statements that you and Don wrote are so compelling. I could barely contain my tears while reading them.

    I will have to go back there and check out more of their web page. Kystal’s slide show is WoW! I replayed the beginning
    so I could hear her voice over and over again.
    Does it sound stupid for me to say, I love Krystal too? I feel like I know her just from you and all the heartwarming pictures.
    Even though I did not know Krystal in this life I feel robbed of knowing her better. I wish I did not meet you through
    the tragedy of our children’s death. I feel blessed to know you and I just hate the way we came to meet. I wish I could
    change it! If only, if only…. How I wish we met some other way and I had the pleasure of knowing Krystal and you
    could meet Steven too. Yes, I spend to much time dreaming of what could have been when I know perfectly well
    our children are not going to walk through the door or ring our phone.

    I’m trying to end this note on a happier thought, but my heart is sorrowful for you and all who love Krystal. I know she
    is very proud of the letters you and Don wrote to the judge. I hope that many people will read this web page and see
    Krystal’s slide show. I know that Krystal will save others from dying needlessly by drunk drivers. Krystal will spare
    other families the devastation and endless grief of losing a loved one by a drunk driver. Kystal’s life WILL make a difference!

    Love you,
    Angel

  • Theresa says:

    Jo Ann,

    I just went to the blog and saw Krystal’s slide show. What a sweet beautiful person she is. I used the word ‘is’ because she will ALWAYS be beautiful even though we cannot see her. Thank you so much for sharing her with me. I feel very blessed to know both of you.

    Love,
    Theresa