The drunken driver who hit a 7-year-old trick-or-treater Halloween night in Tacoma pleaded guilty to a vehicular assault charge Tuesday in Pierce County Superior Court.
Kasey Gunnarson, 39, of Tacoma will serve nine months in jail after admitting to the Oct. 31, incident near North Ninth and North I streets. His driver’s license will be suspended for a year and he will have to serve a year of community custody after his release.
Gunnarson had a blood-alcohol content of 0.21 percent when he was driving around Tacoma’s North End and hit Max Wilson while he was trick-or-treating about 7:20 p.m.
The boy suffered a compound jaw fracture, a fractured arm, a fractured femur, fractured fibula, fractured tibia, broken pelvis, broken ribs, broken vertebrae and a concussion.
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He was comatose for a week at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma and had to use a wheelchair when he returned to school.
Retired Judge Ronald Culpepper, who presided over the sentencing, castigated Gunnarson for driving while so intoxicated on a day with so many children out and about.
“That’s why we don’t want people at that level driving,” Culpepper said, referring to Gunnarson’s blood-alcohol content.
Culpepper asked Gunnarson whether he knew how many drinks he had that night, but Gunnarson couldn’t answer. So the judge guessed it was about 15, given the level of Gunnarson’s inebriation.
Max’s parents were not present at Gunnarson’s sentencing, though mother Marie Wilson wrote a three-page letter to the court, detailing what her family went through after the assault.
“More than a month later, I start to see the changes in our lives,” Wilson wrote in December. “I have lived through my husband’s military deployments and injuries in Iraq and the Philippines, and his time in Afghanistan, but I have never been as frightened as this. I no longer feel safe on our street.”
Wilson also detailed the emotional toll that seeing the accident took on Max’s twin brother, whose name was redacted in the letter, and on her husband, John, who also was struck by Gunnarson’s SUV.
The Wilson family’s personal injury lawsuit against Gunnarson is pending.
Asked if he had a statement for the court, Gunnarson said, “I’m truly sorry. I did not intend at any point to hurt anyone, especially a child.”