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.
Jo Ann Webb