The uncle and the nephew were both ejected from the car as it flipped over and crashed in the early morning darkness. The boy was rushed to Mary Bridge Hospital in Tacoma, where he was listed in critical condition. The uncle was taken to Tacoma General Hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries.
A 9-year-old girl, identified as the boy's sister and the driver's niece, was riding in the back seat of the car. She was wearing a seat belt and was unhurt in the crash.
State troopers and medics responded to the scene, the westbound lanes of Highway 16 at the Purdy Drive exit, at about 1:30 a.m. after receiving a report of a serious crash.
Arriving at the crash scene, they found the 9-year-old boy clinging to life after being ejected from the car.
"It was absolutely horrible," said Trooper Guy Gill of the State Patrol.
A preliminary investigation found that the driver, identified as Jayce L. Randall, 26, of Gig Harbor, was driving west on Highway 16 in a blue 1990 Acura Integra just before the crash.
The girl told troopers that she and her brother were screaming at the uncle to slow down as he drove from Gig Harbor toward Purdy.
The driver veered off the roadway to the right at the Purdy Drive exit and flipped over, ejecting the 9-year-old boy and driver, who were both riding in the front seat, the State Patrol reported.
The driver's blood-alcohol level was found to be more than twice the legal limit, Gill said. Randall also admitted he had been using marijuana before the crash, and a large amount of marijuana was found in the car, Gill said.
He said Randall is considered to be under arrest for investigation of vehicular assault. If the boy dies, Randall faces a possible vehicular homicide charge.
"Kids are resilient - hopefully he will pull through," Gill said.
The children's grandfather said Randall was bringing the kids to their grandparents' home to spend the night and were set to spend Saturday at the movies.