By now you’ve probably seen, or heard, the viral YouTube video featuring a surfer-bro hitchhiker named Kai, being interviewed by a news reporter in Fresno.
Some media outlets are calling Kai a hero, for swinging a hatchet at a man named Jett Simmons McBride, who allegedly smashed his car into an African American utility worker after yelling that he was Jesus Christ, here to save the world from “black people.” Then McBride allegedly, aggressively, bear hugged a woman standing nearby. 54 year old McBride has been charged with attempted murder. He also happens to be from Pierce County. I got an email from his wife Donna, wanting to tell her side of the story.
She says Kai’s flamboyant personality has turned the story into an autotuned joke. She says her husband has been demonized and her family is struggling to deal with his mental illness. Donna’s been with McBride for 8 years, but it was only in October when he started showing signs of mental instability.
“He fell into a real deep depression after he lost his business. He started having too much time on his hands and didn’t want to do anything. I watched him slowly go down that road.”
She says Jett became delusional, took on multiple personalities and became a conspiracy theorist. She’s tried to get him help, but couldn’t.
“According to the laws here, you can’t do anything. You can’t make them take their medication. He just said he was not going to do it and that’s it. Every mental facility I called, they couldn’t do anything. You feel like your hands are tied to help someone you love. Something like this happens and now he’s going to pay for this, our family is. I’m hoping and praying they will hold him long enough so he can get help.”
Last week, while Donna was on a business trip in Atlanta, McBride went missing. A missing person endangered report was filed by the Ellensburg police, and then he was briefly detained in Moses Lake.
“Someone called the Moses Lake Police because he was saying he was Jesus. Moses Lake Police picked him up. He must have agreed to go to the Grant County Mental Health Center. They let him out because they apparently tested him, talked to him. They told the police that he was deemed not harmful to himself or anyone else. So the Moses Lake Police, not having the missing person endangered dispatch, had to take him back and he said he was coming home.”
But instead he headed south, eventually arriving in Fresno where he picked up Kai the hitchhiker and then hit the man with his car. Donna feels terrible, and at times blames herself.
“I want to say I’m sorry and I tried. Oh my God. Anyone else that had to witness that nightmare. If I was there I would be in shock. God bless them and I hope they heal.”
Donna feels extremely frustrated with the mental health system and thinks this could have been avoided if her husband was helped.
“I was sick to my stomach when the nurse called me and said he was in the hospital handcuffed to a bed. The message he gives me through her is, ‘Tell my wife to pray. I’m being held against my will by two centurions.’ I said, ‘Did you have him mentally evaluated?’ She was kind of giggling because she thought it was funny and she said, ‘No.’ I said ‘Well, you need to get a psych mental evaluation on him before you send him off to jail.’ By the time he got to the jail, nothing was done for his mental health. They just put him in there.”
Donna says Jett is no longer welcome in her home, unless he gets the proper help.
“Nobody wants to talk about mental illness. Nobody wants to talk about the breakdown in the systems and the families that can’t get the help they need. We have to sit here and our resources are drained. Our emotions are drained. Our life and families are totally changed in working around all of this. Where do we go?”