Widower of crash victim tells of struggle, despite drunken driver's sentence

Tirell Cross gets 12 years in prison in death of Chantel Jonson

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Every day remains a struggle for Glenn Jonson, who lost his wife last year in a crash with a drunken driver on Atlantic Boulevard.

That driver, 33-year-old Tirell Cross (pictured below), was sentenced this week to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter in the death of 45-year-old Chantel Jonson in September.

Glenn Jonson said even though the man who is responsible for his wife's death has now been sentenced, things are not getting any easier.

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

"She was a gift to me from God, and I knew right then and there that she was very special," Jonson said of his wife.

The mother of two was a published poet and volunteer. She and her husband were about to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, but it never happened because of horrific crash days before.

"I am having a hard time trying to deal with that, but I am so grateful for the 25 years that God gave us together," Glenn Jonson said. "Believe me, this is painful every day for me to go through each day without my wife."

Chantel Jonson
Chantel Jonson

Police arrested Cross after his blood-alcohol level was found to be nearly twice the legal limit and his license had been revoked. He's also been sentenced to three years of probation, and his license will be permanently revoked and he must complete 100 hours of community service.

"The thing that really upset me more than anything was when the defendant didn't even have the nerve to apologize to me or my family," Jonson said.

He said he's forgiven Cross, but he wants everyone to know how bad drinking and driving is. He hopes people learn a lesson by seeing the torment his family continues to go through.

"We need to be responsible. We need to think about the other person before we pick up a drink, knowing that if you drink too much that this will kill another human being," Jonson said.

He said he has gotten some help by working with local advocacy groups like Compassionate Families and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Jonson said if any other families face a tragedy like this, he is more than willing to help them.