HUNTSVILLE, Ala - A Huntsville family is trying to move forward following the tragic death of their sister, daughter, and friend, Joy Vaughn. Vaughn was killed when police say 53-year-old Antony Wu drove his truck into the home where she was sleeping.
Wu is now facing manslaughter charges. Police believe drugs and alcohol were a factor in the crash. Police say Wu ran his truck off Chaney Thompson Rd. Saturday night, driving through several yards and a chain link fence before plowing into a house on Riverchase Road.
"I woke up because the house shook and the dog went crazy," Joy Vaughn's sister, Jessica Vaughn, said.
Tire marks, a car light, a side view mirror litter the yard of Jess' home. Inside, a board closes off half of the house. "All I saw was smoke and debris and then I noticed that there was a car in my sister's bedroom," she said.
The truck ran off the road, hit an unoccupied car, and went through two yards before it bulldozed over a chain link fence and drove through the back side of her house.
"Her bed was torn into pieces, can't even find the mattress," Vaughn remembered.
The crash killed her sister. "I don't know what to do without her."
This is not the first time the Vaughns have dealt with tragedy. Joy suffered a traumatic brain injury after she was in a kayaking accident 24 years ago.
"She went to Costa Rica with some students because she was a Spanish teacher. And on the last day, they went white water rafting and her raft ended up tipping over. She was in the water for anywhere between 4 and 7 minutes," she explained.
The near-drowning left her disabled. The Vaughns supported Joy through this and took turns taking care of her. She was only staying at Jessica's house for the weekend.
"I've always idolized her before and after her accident. I mean she was my big sister, 10 years older than me. I tried to enter her into Miss America when I was 9. It didn't work but I tried," she said.
Joy is fondly remembered by a family who loved her very much. "Everything is, 'oh Joy wants spaghetti', we know that spaghetti and chocolate," she said.
"Anything that she thought came out of her mouth, so that came up with a lot of quotes. My sisters and I are actually writing a book called Life With Joy," she said.
They are now left wondering how this happened as they mourn a life that was ended much too soon. "One in six hundred thousand million bajillion people will get hit by cars in their home you know and die from it," she said.
Jessica Vaughn says her family spent the day making funeral arrangements. She says she will be paying attention to Wu's criminal proceedings and says she wants justice for her sister.
More details revealed in deadly house crash:
The back of the home near the corner of Riverchase Rd. and Chaney Thompson Rd. is wrapped in a tarp, the front is boarded up. It's what's left behind after a driver plowed through the home killing Joy Vaughn who was sleeping inside the house.
"I'm very angry right now, but I'm also very just in shock," Joy's sister, Jessica Vaughn, said.
Vaughan's family is searching for answers. Police believe Antony Wu was intoxicated at the time of the crash, but it isn't clear why Wu decided to get behind the wheel, or where he was before the incident.
"He said everything from he was going to a particular business, or he was going to a particular house, but like I said, all those did not add up because the direction he was coming from and direction he was appeared to be going to did not add up with his statements," Lt. Michael Johnson said.
Joy's sister was also inside the home during the crash.
"Took them about 30 minutes just to get the man out of the car and he was fighting the whole way. He was fairly combative," she remembered.
This isn't Wu's first run-in with police. He has a record in Madison County spanning all the way back to 1998. That year he pleaded guilty to fraud. In 2001 he was charged with domestic violence, but those charges were later dismissed. His record also includes traffic violations.
While there are still many questions surrounding the circumstances leading up to the crash, for the Vaughn family, one thing is clear, Joy Vaughn died too soon.
"I cannot describe how much I'm going to miss her," Jessica Vaughn said.