The past two years have been difficult for the family and friends of four people who lost their lives to drunk driver Ethan Couch.
And the past three weeks have been just as hard after the so-called “affluenza” teen fled to Mexico with his mother, according to authorities in Texas.
ABC Action News spoke to Breanna Mitchell’s cousin, Bill Heburn, about Couch’s arrest in the resort town of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
“We forgive him, that's the way we believe. But he needs to be taken off the street and punished so this doesn't happen again, and nobody else is lost,” Heburn said from his Polk County home.
“I am a firm believer that justice will be served. He is never going to live a normal life. Everyone will know who Ethan Couch is and what he did. As much I want him to go to jail for the rest of his life and never see the light of day, his life is going to be far from simple.”
Heburn said people should remember the four people Couch killed when the then 16-year-old made the decision to drive drunk on June 15, 2013.
“Do not get behind the wheel if you are drunk,” Heburn said. “If you take anything away from this, remember what has happened [to] Breanna. She was young, full of life, beautiful future, and she is gone because somebody got behind the wheel drunk.”
Mitchell, 24, was a chef at a private club. The night she died the Tarrant County, Texas, sheriff said Couch was out “joy-riding.”
Cruising in his dad’s Ford F-350 with a blood alcohol level of 0.24, plus valium and marijuana in his system, Couch crashed into Mitchell’s SUV that was broken down along a suburban two-lane road outside Fort Worth. Shelby Boyles, 21, and her mother, Hollie Boyles, 52, who came out of their home to offer assistance, and Brian Jennings, a youth minister at a Burleson church who also stopped to help, were killed when Couch crashed into them.
Heburn said there is no excuse for driving drunk and doesn’t consider Couch’s mother, Tonya, a mother at all for how she handled his drunk driving case or their recent escape to Mexico.
“I'm sure we got a dictionary around here and we can look up the term ‘mother’ and she probably is nowhere near what Webster defines as a mother and what I define as a mother,” Heburn said. “You can love your children to death. But there are consequences for actions and in this particular situation four people died.”
A teenager who was among Couch’s passengers was thrown from the vehicle and was left paralyzed and brain damaged.