A 6-year-old boy died and his younger sister was in serious condition Saturday after their mother drove in front of an oncoming semitruck, police said.
Idaho State Police believe alcohol was involved in the collision on U.S. Highway 95.
Charges are pending against Pamela R. Weick, the children’s 31-year-old mother, according to an ISP report.
Weick’s friends and family described her Saturday as “nothing less than a great mom” devastated by the accident.
“She’s taking it awfully hard,” said Ken Willford, a family friend.
“She doesn’t want to believe it happened,” said her brother, Steve Weick.
Pamela Weick was driving her Chevrolet Blazer about 12:15 a.m. Saturday. The Cocolalla woman was headed northeast on Granite Loop Road while Merle Johnson was driving his semitruck north on U.S. Highway 95.
Weick drove past a stop sign at the intersection of the two roads, directly into the path of the truck, said ISP Sgt. Jay Jensen.
“I was so confident she would stop,” Johnson, 39, of Creston, British Columbia, said, explaining he had seen Weick’s car approaching the intersection. “I was fully expecting to see brake lights but I saw no brake lights.”
As Weick’s Blazer shot onto the highway, Johnson tried to steer his rig toward the shoulder. He laid down almost 100 feet of rubber skid marks slamming on the brakes, he said.
But it was too late.
The truck smashed into the passenger side of the Blazer where 5-year-old Sarah Weick was sitting in the front seat. Joshua Weick was in the back seat behind his mother, Jensen said. Both children were wearing seat belts.
Johnson, who was not injured, asked another trucker to call for help and put his arms around Pamela Weick to keep her calm.
Johnson said he immediately smelled alcohol on the mother. Sgt. Jensen said emergency workers reported the same odor.
“It was the opinion of everybody who was near her that she smelled like alcohol,” Jensen said.
Blood was taken from Weick at the hospital to determine her blood-alcohol level.
Joshua died at the scene from massive head injuries, according to the ISP report. Sarah had to be extricated from the crumpled wreckage.
She was taken to Kootenai Medical Center where she underwent emergency surgery. She was later transported to Sacred Heart Medical Center to be cared for in the pediatric intensive care unit.
The children’s mother was listed in fair condition Saturday at KMC. Family and friends spent much of the day with her.
Pamela Weick told Willford that she looked both ways before pulling onto the highway, he said. She was only about six miles from home.
“She just didn’t see (the truck),” Willford said. “She said she looked both ways and didn’t see it. By the time she saw it, she couldn’t slow down and she couldn’t speed up, she couldn’t do anything.”
Family and friends said they did not know if Pamela Weick had been drinking. The children’s father, Jace Fazzino of Clark Fork, Idaho, could not be reached.
Joshua Weick attended school at Southside School in Cocolalla.
The boy loved hunting, camping and the outdoors, Willford said. He had taken the boy deer hunting last season, teaching him how to be quiet and follow his prey.
“I was looking forward to taking him again next year,” Willford said. “He was a wonderful boy.”
Although she was a year younger, Sarah Weick loved to try and keep up with Joshua, Steve Weick said.
“He and his sister were very close and she’s going to take it pretty hard,” said Virginia Weick, the children’s grandmother.
Steve Weick said the accident fractured Sarah’s skull, ruptured her diaphragm and left her with abdominal injuries. Sacred Heart officials said Saturday afternoon that the girl was in serious but stable condition.
Pamela Weick had not been cited late Saturday. ISP officials are still working on the accident investigation and are waiting for the results of the blood alcohol test, Jensen said.
“I would expect we will request of the prosecutor’s office that some kind of charges be made,” Jensen said.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of accident area