A Gig Harbor man suspected of fatally injuring his 9-year-old nephew in a drunken-driving crash Saturday was booked Monday afternoon into the Pierce County Jail and was expected to be charged today.
The 26-year-old man was released from a hospital Monday, a day after the family took Donovan Best off life support at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma. Authorities said the man remained on suicide watch at the jail.
The boy was hurt about 1:30 a.m. Saturday when his uncle lost control of his 1990 Acura Integra as he tried to exit Purdy Drive to state Route 302, the Washington State Patrol said. The car flipped, throwing the man and his nephew from the car.
The boy was sitting in the front passenger seat. Neither was wearing a seat belt, according to the patrol.
A young girl in the back seat buckled herself in when she got in the car and was not hurt in the crash. She was able to flag down a passing car and get help for her family.
The uncle admitted smoking marijuana and drinking heavily before getting behind the wheel, trooper Guy Gill said. The man allegedly was tested at double the legal alcohol limit of 0.08.
The girl told troopers she and her brother were yelling for their uncle to slow down just before he lost control of the car, Gill said.
The uncle is expected to be charged with vehicular homicide.
“It’s awful,” Donovan’s aunt, Karrie Lewandowski, told KIRO-TV. “It’s the most horrific thing that I could ever imagine a family going through.”
“A mistake was made. Unfortunately, it is a tragic mistake,” said another of the boy’s uncles, Dale Lewandowski. “There’s nothing we can do to fix it now.”
The uncle reportedly was driving the children from their home to their grandparents’ house when the accident occurred.
The boy formerly attended school in the Peninsula School District. He and his sister most recently were students at Mary Lyon Elementary School in Tacoma, according to school officials.
Crisis counselors met with teachers at Mary Lyon before the start of school Monday, so they could prepare them to talk with their students, said Tacoma Public Schools spokesman Dan Voelpel. Several students also met one-on-one with school district grief counselors, he said.stacia.glenn@ thenewstribune.com Staff writer Debbie Cafazzo contributed to this report.