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Crash that killed 9-year-old could have been avoided, police say

An early morning car crash near Purdy on Sat., March 16 could have been avoided police said. A 9-year-old boy was ejected from the car when it rolled over and was killed; his 8-year-old sister survived the crash and flagged down oncoming cars for assistance. The children’s 26-year-old uncle is being held for DUI and vehicular homicide.

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jayce randall

Jayce Randall pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in crash that killed nephew

TACOMA — A 26-year-old Tacoma man pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and reckless endangerment in the death of his 9-year-old nephew, according to the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Jayce Randall left a family barbeque March 16 with his nephew Donovan Best and his 8-year old niece.  He admitted to drinking too much and smoking marijuana before getting behind the wheel.

He was headed west on State Route 16 when he sped up as he exited onto Purdy Drive Northwest.  The 8-year-old started crying and asked her uncle to slow down.  Right after that, he lost control of the car on a curve, flew off the road and rolled at least once.  Randall and Donovan were thrown from the car.  They were only wearing the shoulder straps of their seat belts.  Randall’s niece was fully belted in and survived without any injuries.

Donovan died the next day.  Jayce Randall will be sentenced Oct. 4.  He could face up to 8 1/2 years in prison under new, harsher sentencing guidelines that went into effect after the 2012 legislative session.  Previous penalties topped out at 3 years and four months.

TACOMA — A 26-year-old man accused of driving drunk was charged Tuesday with vehicular homicide and reckless endangerment in connection with a car crash Saturday that resulted in the death of his 9-year-old nephew, Donovan Best.

The defendant, Jayce Lee Randall, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Pierce County Superior Court. Bail was set at $250,000.

“Drugs, drinking, and driving lead to senseless tragedies like this,” said Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “Our prayers go out to the victim’s surviving 8-year-old sister and her family.”

The flag outside Mary Lyon Elementary School in Tacoma flew at half-staff Monday in remembrance of third-grader Donovan Best.

The 9-year-old boy was taken off life support Sunday night at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and died. He had critically injured after being ejected from a car his uncle crashed a day earlier.

The Washington State Patrol said the driver, Randall, was drunk and high on marijuana at the time of the crash. They said his blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit.

halfstaffStaff members at Mary Lyon Elementary said Donovan was a great kid who had a smile that would light up a room and that he was compassionate beyond his years.

“During the Martin Luther King celebration, he prepared an ‘I have a dream’ poster that was on the outside of his locks. For the world, he had a dream there would be peace and everyone would treat each other nice,” school district spokesman Dan Voelpel said.

Donovan and his 8-year-old sister were riding in their uncle’s car at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday when the accident occurred. Family members said he was leaving a barbecue party at his sister’s house and was taking her kids with him for the weekend.

The 1990 Acura Integra he was driving has automatic shoulder seat belts that engage when the car is turned on, but neither Randall nor Donovan had the lap belts fastened. Both Randall and Donovan were ejected.

“He (Donovan) should have been buckled in and shouldn’t have even been in this vehicle to begin with. This vehicle shouldn’t have even been on the road with that driver in the state he was in. It’s a tragedy and 100 percent preventable,” Washington State Patrol trooper Guy Gill said.

Donovan’s younger sister was buckled in in the back seat and made it out with no injuries.

“She is the hero in this accident. She crawled out and flagged down help. For an 8-year-old little girl, it’s amazing she did that,” said the girl’s aunt, Karrie Lewandowski.