This is truly a sad, sad ending to a very courageous young man.
From the Houston Chronicle:
Spring teen who survived pipe attack dies after leap from cruise ship
A Spring teen who survived a brutal beating with a pipe last year jumped to his death from a Cozumel-bound cruise ship today.
Carnival Cruise Lines officials would not confirm his identity, but Rick Dovalina, head of LULAC in Houston, said tonight that he confirmed through the family’s attorney, Carlos Leon, that 18-year-old David Ritcheson has died.
“Carlos said that the family confirmed it, that it was true,” Dovalina said. “The family heard from the captain of the ship. He went overboard.”
The incident happened at 7:35 a.m. aboard the cruise ship Ecstasy, according to a written statement from Carnival Cruise Lines. The ship’s crew pulled the 18-year-old’s body from the water about 45 minutes afterward, according to the statement.
Leon could not be reached for comment this evening.
About a dozen cars were parked outside the family’s home tonight. A woman who answered the door with tears in her eyes declined to comment when asked if Ritcheson had died.
“We’re not commenting on anything,” the woman said.
Albert Galvan, Ritcheson’s father, declined to comment when reached by phone.
Ritcheson’s relatives will fly to the Mexican resort town of Cozumel on Monday to identify the body, Dovalina said.
Ritcheson went on the cruise with a friend’s family and several other friends, Dovalina said.
Dovalina said he thought that Ritcheson was holding up fairly well — he testified about hate crimes before Congress in the spring.
“He just got back from Washington not that long ago. He went through a lot. He endured two trials,” Dovalina said.
In an April interview, Ritcheson said he still was struggling with being identified as the victim of an April 23, 2006, assault in which two teens repeatedly rammed a PVC pipe into his rectum. A skinhead named David Tuck was sentenced to life in prison for his part in the attack. Keith Turner received a 90-year sentence.
“I shouldn’t care what people think,” David Ritcheson said earlier this year. “But it’s like everyone knows I’m ‘the kid.’ I don’t want to be a standout because of what happened.”
Ritcheson had endured 30 surgeries as of April and still had a few more to go.
My thoughts and prayers are with this young man’s family. David had attended Klein Collins High School at one time, the same school my sons attend.
As for the two disgusting excuses for life that are rotting in jail, their time will come and hopefully it will be painful and drawn out. Call me cruel but hey…I’m not the one that ganged up on another kid and violated him with a pipe.
That could have been my son…
It’s ironic that I found this story just minutes later…
From the AP:
WASHINGTON — A House committee approved a hate crimes bill supported by the victim of a vicious racial attack in a Houston suburb last year.
The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill allowing the U.S. attorney general to help local law enforcement investigate hate crimes. The vote late Wednesday was 20-14.
David Ritcheson, 18, testified last week on behalf of the bill sponsored by Rep. John Conyers, the committee’s chairman. Ritcheson was kicked, stripped, burned with cigarettes, beaten nearly lifeless and sodomized as his skinhead attackers yelled anti-Hispanic slurs at him.
His attackers were sentenced to 90 years and life in prison even though they were not prosecuted under state hate crimes laws. Ritcheson, of Spring, told the panel that he was fortunate because local police had the resources and interest in vigorously prosecuting his attackers. But he said other hate crime victims are not as fortunate and need the federal hate crimes law.
The bill defines such crimes as those motivated by prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim or is a violation of the state, local, or tribal hate crime laws.
Under current law, hate crimes can only be prosecuted at the federal level if the crime is committed while the victim is carrying out a federally protected act, such as voting, Conyers said.
“Hate crimes are a stain on our national heritage. We should accordingly do what we can to better equip our federal, state and local law enforcement agencies with the tools to prosecute these crimes,” Conyers said.
Opponents of HR 1592 have said it would take jurisdiction from states and lessens the seriousness of crimes with other motives than prejudice. Others oppose the inclusion of sexual orientation in the definition.