Independence sergeant killed in crash remembered as advocate for sex trafficking victims

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo — The law enforcement community is mourning the loss of one of their own.

Sgt. Jason Young is one of two people killed in a car crash Thursday evening in Gladstone. He was a 20-year veteran of the Independence Police Department and was off duty at the time of the crash.

The crash happened near 64th Street and North Antioch around 6:45 p.m. Thursday. Gladstone police said a vehicle heading west on 64th Street crossed into the eastbound lanes and side-swiped one vehicle then crashed head-on into another. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Police have not yet released the name of the second person who died. A third person also sustained minor injuries.

The Independence Police Department said Young served the community in a number of ways. One was through the Special Victims Unit.

Advocates at metro nonprofits said he made a big impact.

“I think It’s a tragic loss. I really do,” said Joe Coleman who lives near the crash site. “I don’t know if it was in-attention or speeding or what caused the — it’s just sad that two people lost their lives.”

Denise Lester is the founder and executive director of Rended Heart, a nonprofit aimed at helping victims of sexual exploitation find the resources they need to restart their lives.

She said detectives like Young are vital to helping get victims out of violent situations.

“It’s really very sad because we need the officers that really care about individuals who are being trafficked,” Lester said. “To lose an officer who obviously has a heart for this and wants to see justice come and free victims that are captive to this kind of slavery — this is a huge loss for us.”

In November 2019, Young supervised an operation that led to the arrests of more than 20 people in a human and sex trafficking sting.

One of those people was 48-year-old Jeffrey Higgins who is now facing federal charges. Court documents show the alleged victim was relieved when she realized officers were there to help her.

It led to a police chase into Wyandotte County with the victim’s young daughter in Higgins’ backseat. The child and mother are doing much better today thanks to Young, Independence police and the Department of Homeland Security.

“She is in good spirits,” Lester said. “She’s working towards rebuilding her life. She recently received a job offer, and yeah, I think she’s doing really great considering all things.”

The Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) also comment on Young’s passing in a statement on their Facebook page:

“MOCSA advocates worked closely with him in his role as a sex crimes investigator and supervisor. Sergeant Young persistently worked to protect survivors and keep our community safe. He will be greatly missed.”

“I’m really sad to hear that they have a loss,” Lester said. “He sounds like he was a wonderful man and had a great purpose in life, and my condolences.”

The Independence Police Department is asking everyone to keep Young’s friends and family in their prayers.

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