Not guilty pleas were entered Tuesday on behalf of a Gig Harbor man charged in a drunken-driving crash that killed his 9-year-old nephew.
Pierce County prosecutors charged Jayce Randall, 26, with one count of vehicular homicide and one count of reckless endangerment. Superior Court Commissioner Meagan Foley ordered Randall jailed in lieu of $250,000 bail at the request of deputy prosecutor Tim Jones.
Randall, who was hurt in the Saturday crash, was brought into court in a wheelchair. He was dressed in a padded smock reserved for inmates deemed a danger to themselves or others. Randall has threatened suicide since learning of his nephew’s death, Jones said.
Authorities said Randall was giving the boy, Donovan Best, and his 8-year-old sister a ride to their grandparents’ house about 1:30 a.m. when he lost control of his car as he exited state Route 16 onto state Route 302 near Purdy.
Randall allegedly crossed the center line before swerving back to the right, court records show. His car hit a ditch and went airborne before rolling at least once.
Randall and Donovan, who troopers believe weren’t wearing seat belts, were thrown from the car as it rolled. The boy landed on the pavement about 50 feet away, court records show. Randall landed in the ditch.
The girl was wearing her seat belt in the backseat and was not hurt.
Just before the wreck, Randall allegedly asked his niece and nephew “if they were ready,” according to charging papers. The girl told Washington State Patrol troopers her uncle often says that “when he is going to go fast.”
The girl said she closed her eyes. She also told troopers she and her brother were crying and asking their uncle to slow down.
After the crash, the girl climbed out of the wreckage, checked on her brother and flagged down a passing car for help.
Troopers found a baggie with more than 4 ounces of marijuana in Randall’s car, court records show.
He allegedly admitted he “drank too much,” claiming to have had four drinks and smoked pot an hour before he got behind the wheel. His blood-alcohol level was 0.19 after his arrest, Jones said. The legal limit in Washington is 0.08.
Donovan was taken off life support Sunday night. Randall was released from the hospital Monday and booked into the Pierce County Jail.
Several of Randall’s friends and relatives were in court for his arraignment but left without talking to reporters.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653