Husband of woman killed in DUI crash speaks

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Seven months ago, his wife was taken away. Police said it was because of a drunken driver.

On Tuesday, the husband of 45-year-old Chantel Jonson spoke publicly for the first time.

The crash happened in September on Atlantic Boulevard at Brookside Circle East, just west of University Boulevard. The other driver, 33-year-old Tirell Cross (pictured below), is charged with DUI manslaughter and driving with a revoked license resulting in a death.

Glenn Jonson said he's making it a point to keep this from happening to any other families.

"She always lit up my day, always," he said of his late wife. "She saw me first and I saw her last, and I asked her out for a date, and that's how our relationship began. Love at first sight."

Chantel Jonson was a loving mother of two, a friend to many, a volunteer in the community, even an accomplished writer. In 2012, she was honored by Maya Angelou for one of her books. Jonson had worked for years at CSX Transportation.

Glenn Jonson said he never expected their marriage to end like this, a week shy of their 25th anniversary.

"I knew something was wrong when I got up that morning and she wasn't home," he said.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Tirell Cross
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Tirell Cross

In September, Chantel Jonson was driving home on Atlantic Boulevard after working overnight. Detectives said Cross (pictured) drove his car over a median and into Chantel Jonson's car. Police records claim he was speeding, traveling at 60 miles an hour in a 40 mile an hour zone.

Police said Cross admitted drinking two beers the evening before. A detective said he saw indicators of impairment on Cross.

Open containers of alcoholic beverages were found in Cross' SUV, police said. They said he agreed to provide a blood sample for testing, and the results showed a blood alcohol level of 0.152 and 0.153.

Cross's driver license had been revoked for six months in April for DUI property damage and revoked one year in April for refusal to submit to a breath/blood/urine test.

According to a report obtained by Channel 4, Cross was driving his cousin's car at the time of the crash. The cousin, a police officer, filed an unauthorized use of a motor vehicle report against Cross.

"The defendant was a habitual offender, and looking over his record, he could have been stopped, he could have been stopped numerous times," Glenn Jonson said.

Glenn Jonson said the man's actions after a night of drinking wrecked his life and that of the couple's two children.


"It has just been a 360(-degree) turn around for us," he said. "Some days I don't even know how I'm going to make it through the day."

He's now made it his mission to keep this from happening again. He said the laws must change to keep drunken and dangerous drivers off the roads.

"What is so frightening is even suspending their license isn't enough," Glenn Jonson said.

He wants more consequences and awareness of the problems, and he hopes his wife's tragic story will protect other innocent drivers. Glenn Jonson says he is now working closely with Compassionate Families, Inc. and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

"I don't care if he (Cross) gets one day (behind bars) or 1,000 years, he can't bring my wife back," Glenn Jonson said. "You know, my wife cannot come back."

He said he wishes the court case would just be over. Prosecutors said they are seeking justice for their victim and the defendant faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.  Cross' attorney hasn't responded to a call seeking comment.