Jack Elliott death: GF Delaney Brennan 'gently shoved' him off boat and then got tattoo because she felt 'guilty'
Delaney Brennan was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with evidence and could face up to 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine
FORT WORTH, TEXAS: A girl who has been accused of shoving Texas college student Jack Elliott into the water while they were flirting onboard a boat in 2019 revealed that she got a tattoo of Jack's initials on her wrist after the tragedy so that she can remind herself how much he loved life. Five college students from Texas are facing criminal charges in connection with the 2019 death of a Texas Christian University freshman Elliott, including Delaney Brennan, who allegedly pushed him. The incident took place on the waters of Lake Travis, a manmade lake, northwest of Austin, in October 2019. Jack died after being pushed into the lake by Delaney.
Delaney and 19-year-old Jack were "kissing" when she gave him a "playful shove". Jack fell off the boat before hitting a propeller and drowning in the water that evening. However, the teens present on the boat at the time reportedly tried to hide the truth by lying to officials. They pleaded ignorance to Jack's family and dumped their booze bottles off the side of the boat.
Delaney, now 21, a fashion student, said she got a tattoo of Jack's initials on her wrist. In her own deposition, she said, "I did that because I wanted to always have something to remember him by. When I looked down I wanted to remember how much he loved life and it kind of gave me a reminder to always live my life to the fullest and to do everything in life to basically live up to what he would have done."
Posting onto social media and writing to friends, Delaney said, "I'm still messed up from this and my parents are here with me now, but we don't know much still. I just feel like guilty … and I don't think I have ever been this sad. I was the last person to touch him."
A wrongful death lawsuit launched by Jack's family in 2020 revealed the true circumstances of the event. Elle Weber, another teen who was onboard the boat, claimed in a sworn statement in the suit, "Delaney and Jack were at the front of the boat, flirting and kissing. She gave Jack a "playful little shove" and he fell off the boat." Another teen said in an affidavit that Delaney kept repeating, "He fell! I didn't mean to push him."
Delaney is now one of five students facing criminal charges. She was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with evidence by aiding in the deletion of a cellphone video. She could face up to 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. Delaney will appear for a pre-trial at the Travis County Criminal Court on August 17.
On the day of the tragedy, 12 students from the university were drinking and wakeboarding. Circumstances around Jack's death remained a mystery until Weber admitted months after the incident that she had not told the full story to the police. "I wish it had not happened and I wish I'd told police everything the first time," she said.
The boating expedition in 2019 was led by Carson Neel, whose father Billy ran the Northshore Marina. The Orange County Register reported that Carson told the group where the life jackets were stowed but did not give any further safety instructions to his friends. After Jack fell off the boat, the others onboard shone the lights from their cellphones into the water to find him.
"A lot of people were freaking out and crying and not communicating well," Carson said in a sworn affidavit seen by the OC Register, according to the Daily Mail. "I tried to stay as calm as possible because I knew it was serious and freaking out would make it worse." The group, unable to find Jack, headed back to the shore. In one of the first inconsistencies in the case, Elle called 911 and gave her name to the police as 'Elle Macpherson'. The group, meanwhile, dumped their alcohol bottles in the water.
"The teens hatched a plan to hide the truth from authorities and even Jack's family in Newport Beach" after Jack disappeared, according to police records. Jack's body was recovered after ten days, more than 100 feet below the surface. When the teens were individually questioned by Travis County Sheriff's Office investigators, their stories did not match up. The teens invoked their Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate themselves throughout legal proceedings, but the story was eventually revealed.
Carson was also indicted on a felony charge of tampering with physical evidence for allegedly dumping the alcohol, and could face up to 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. Elle has been indicted on a misdemeanor charge of giving false information to a police officer. One of the teens who was aboard the boat, Josh Evans of Aliso Viejo, was indicted on a misdemeanor charge of furnishing alcohol to a minor. Anthony Salazar was indicted on a misdemeanor charge of perjury.