NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – An impulsive decision at the Austin City Limits Music Festival cost the life of a college student from North Texas.
Now, her parents are sharing a warning about drugs, to spare other families the same grief.
“We want to talk about it because she was such a bright person, and she had so much going for her,” dad Alan Hunter said, talking about his daughter Jessica. “She made a mistake. I don’t want to see someone else make that mistake. It’s not worth it for a little bit of fun.”
Alan and Debbie Hunter are holding on to the notes, pictures and letters that friends of their daughter gave them at her funeral. Each one contains words of what Jessica meant to others.
“She was just a beautiful young lady, inside and out,” said Debbie.
The Hunters have also written their own notes, of how they learned of their only child’s death, and what they witnessed in her hospital room as she lay in a medically induced coma. Her temperature when she’d arrived at the hospital was 106-degrees.
The parents explained, “The drug she was on made her heart rate go crazy.”
It is a heartbreaking story, but one the Hunters want to share with as many families of young adults as possible, in the hope of sparing some other parents from this tragedy.
Like thousands of other young adults, Jessica was in Austin for the annual ACL Music Festival. On October 5, around 10:30 p.m., she was waiting for a pedi-cab ride home with friends, when she collapsed onto the sidewalk. She was having a seizure.
At home in North Richland Hills, the Hunters were sleeping and didn’t hear their cell phones ring. Ringing the doorbell and knocking on the door, police officers woke them at 5 a.m. Monday.
When the couple called the hospital in Austin, they were just told that Jessica had taken a drug.
“The only thing I can think of is she let her guard down and made that choice without thinking in the spur of the moment. Then it was too late,” said Alan.
The Hunters later learned that it was ecstasy, also known as ‘Molly’, that Jessica took after getting the drug from a friend of a friend.
“When you call [the hospital] and they say, ‘We have your daughter. She’s had a terrible reaction to a drug, you’re like, ‘Excuse me? It’s like, ‘Not my daughter.’ But it was,” Alan said.
Driving as quickly and carefully as possible Alan and Debbie got to Austin. When they entered the hospital room, Jessica was in a medically induced coma. Four people were working on her, and two chaplains were nearby.
“You pray the whole time, ‘Please God, don’t take my baby,” Alan said.
Their daughter – with whom they were so close – would never recover.
On October 11, hundreds of people gathered at Northwood Church, to celebrate her life. Alan and Debbie have heard from many who knew her daughter, describing how she touched their lives.
Jessica, 21, was a student at Texas State University She was studying marketing and was involved with the school’s ice hockey spirit group.
Before college, at Keller High School, Jessica participated in debate and theater. Her parents describe her as someone who treasured relationships. She also had a strong faith in God.
“I tell people all the time, she made two eternal decisions,” said Alan. “The first one was that she accepted Jesus Christ as her savior. And the second was that she decided to take this drug took her life.”
The Hunters treasure every moment of the last 21 years.
“At Christmas, Jessica always wrote us letters to tell us how she felt about us. She wrote us a letter when she went off to college, that she couldn’t have asked for two better role models,” said Debbie. “We know how she felt about us, and she knew that she was the light of our lives.”
The Hunters hope to share Jessica’s story – her life, loss, and the impact of her choice – with as many young people as they can. They hope to speak at Keller High School, and other North Texas schools.
The couple plans to do the same at Texas State University next April, and have spoken with Austin police about doing public service announcements before next year’s festival.
The Hunters imagine their daughter, who loved them, would be proud. “She would stand up for what she believed in, so I think she’d be very proud that we’re going to do this.”
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