5-year-old who survived deadly DUI crash may go home Friday; mom faces charges
TACOMA, Wash. - A Yelm father is hoping to take his son home from the hospital Friday after the boy was seriously injured in a crash where three people were killed. The boy's mother is accused of driving drunk and causing the crash.
"He's doing awesome," said Bryan Aneweer.
His 5-year-old son Noah suffered spinal and stomach injuries and is in a body cast. Aneweer said he has been at his son's side at Mary Bridge Hospital since he heard about the crash last week
"He seems to be in good spirits about it so far. He seems to be handling it well," said Aneweer.
It is all because of a crash August 6 in Pierce County. The state patrol says his mother's van blew through a stop sign near Roy, hitting an SUV. Three members of a California family were killed. They are identified as Dong and Kum Ki and Kyung Lee. Miles Ki survived.
Noah's mother, and Aneweer's ex-wife Amber Smithlin, was charged with DUI vehicular homicide.
“Of course I cannot defend her actions, but I can say that she is a very caring person and I know that she would take it back if she could regardless of what she has to face in the legal system," said her father, Bryan Smithlin. "I remember once as a child how she cried when a crow flew in the path of our car and was killed. Amber has had a rough life.”
"It's a terrible situation, but whatever she's given she deserves," said Aneweer. He and Smithlin weren't married. She had custody of Noah.
"Making those sorts of choices," said Aneweer. "Being drunk at four in the afternoon and driving. And then having our son in the vehicle too? 'What are you thinking?'"
He said he tried to get custody of Noah before.
"I had a feeling things were getting bad again so I've been fighting the last couple of years, but I have a past," said Aneweer.
Aneweer admits to a criminal history that includes assault and harassment, but says that was nearly 20 years ago and it was never anything more than a few days in jail.
"I've dealt with sobriety and everything over the years, but I've been good for five years," he said.
Aneweer said he is newly married with two stepsons and eager to welcome Noah.
"I am relieved that Noah is going to be okay. I am also grateful that his father is so caring. I am sick to my stomach that my daughter is the cause of all this grief to these innocent people," said Bryan Smithlin.
"So obviously now I'm going to get custody," said Aneweer. "It's really a sad situation that it had to come to this. People that lose their lives for it. I think about that every day."
Aneweer says Noah doesn't remember the crash, but he knows he has been in some sort of accident.
Child Protective Services is in charge of this case, but for privacy reasons can't comment on it.
Friends have set up a GoFundMe account to help the family with Noah's medical bills.
As for Smithlin, she's in jail on $750,000 bail with trial set for October 1.