Boy hurt in suspected drunken driving crash dies

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by ELISA HAHN and JOE FRYER / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ElisaHahnK5

KING5.com

Posted on March 17, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 18 at 11:51 AM

TACOMA, Wash. -- The 9-year-old boy who was critically injured in a suspected drunk driving crash passed away Sunday night after he was taken off life support, the boy's family said.

Donovan Best had been on life support since he was injured in a single-car crash on State Route 16 in Pierce County early Saturday.  Best's uncle was driving, and according to the State Patrol, he had been drinking and smoking marijuana. 

The uncle will now face vehicular homicide charges, State Patrol spokesman Guy Gill said Sunday night.

Family members gathered at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital throughout the day Sunday, preparing to say their goodbyes to Best.

"He touches everybody that he meets because he's just that kind of kid," said Dale Lewandowski, the boy's great uncle.

The accident happened early Saturday morning on westbound State Route 16, right at the exit to Purdy.

Donovan was riding with his 8-year-old sister and their 26-year-old uncle -- who troopers say was driving too fast -- when the car rolled, and Donovan and his uncle were ejected from the car.
  
Donovan was in the front seat with just a shoulder belt but no lap belt.  His sister was in the back seat with a shoulder and lap belt. She was not injured, relatives said.

"God bless that little girl, she crawled out and flagged down help at 1:30 in the morning, in the dark, on a freeway, and said 'where's my brother,'" said family member Karrie Lewandowski. "They found her brother and, without her ... she's a little hero in our eyes and she's losing her brother and her uncle, who they love. He's the light of their eyes and he made a bad decision, so it's two-fold for the family.
   
Troopers say the kids were telling the uncle to slow down at one point.
   
Troopers say the man had twice the legal blood-alcohol level, and he allegedly admitted to smoking marijuana before the accident.  Troopers also found a large amount of marijauna in his car, Gill said.

The uncle suffered a broken pelvis in the accident, relatives said, and was under "suicide watch" at Tacoma General.

The family said early Sunday that if there was no improvement in the boy's condition Sunday night, they were preparing to take him off life support.

The family plans to set up a fund Monday to help Best's family pay for funeral costs and other expenses.

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