'Affluenza' teen's disappearance not surprising, says father of victim
The father of a child injured when "affluenza" teen Ethan Couch drunkenly crashed an SUV in Texas more than three years ago said he's not surprised the infamous teen has disappeared.
"I don't think there's been any accountability for Ethan," said Kevin McConnell, whose then-12-year-old son Lucas was injured in the Fort Worth drunken driving crash. "I think he was never taught that actions have consequences other than the easiest way out," McConnell told NBC News.
Couch gained attention when he was sentenced to 10 years of probation for the crash, which left four people dead and nine injured, after his defense team argued that he suffered from affluenza — a purported condition that refers to an upbringing so privileged that a person can't distinguish right from wrong.
"Affluenza," however, is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as an official diagnosis.
The now-18-year-old went missing on Tuesday with his mother, and has been placed on Tarrant County's most wanted list as local officials, U.S. Marshals and the FBI search desperately for him.
"At this point, I feel like, there's no exit strategy for Ethan doing it this way. This can only lead to a path of destruction," said McConnell.
See photos from the affluenza case:
The father said the resurfacing of attention on Couch's case over the past few days has put a strain on his family. "It's drastically affected my family," McConnell said. "It's brought out emotions that we shouldn't have to be dealing with."
Lucas McConnell suffered minor injuries to his back and head in the crash, but witness his family friend lying dead on the side of the road, according to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.
McConnell said he has forgiven Couch, but he hopes that the teen will face "swift and certain and severe punishment."
"And I think that punishment and correction might save his life. Might turn him around," McConnell said, urging Couch's father, Fred, to do everything he can to bring his son back. The U.S. Marshal's Service told NBC News that Fred Couch has cooperated and has talked to investigators.
If Couch is caught, he could face up to 10 years in prison, and if his mother helped him disappear, she could also face charges.
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