July 24, 2012 in City

Law student hears charges in hit-and-run

Sara Mcmullen The Spokesman-Review
 

As a Gonzaga University law student accused of running over a bicycle trailer carrying a 2-year-old girl and then speeding away made his first appearance in court Monday, the victim remained in intensive care at a Spokane hospital.

Timmy Nguyen, who has no criminal record, left jail on Monday after appearing before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Annette Plese on charges of hit-and-run and vehicular assault. He’s to stay away from alcohol and is due back in court for an arraignment in early August.

Nguyen, who turns 23 on Thursday, is accused of steering his Honda into a family riding bicycles in a Millwood neighborhood Saturday just before 8 p.m.

He ran over and flattened a bicycle trailer carrying Danika L. Packard, police say.

The girl’s father, Danny Packard, was towing the trailer behind his bicycle on East Maringo Drive approaching North Argonne Road when Nguyen’s 2003 Honda Element came around the corner at high speed, according to court records prepared by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

The car swerved to the wrong side of the road and ran over the trailer without stopping.

Nguyen fled the scene, police say, but witnesses followed him to an apartment at East Wellesley Avenue and North Pasadena Lane and confronted him. They told police Nguyen appeared intoxicated and screamed profanities when confronted, officials said.

Nguyen was having trouble standing on his own when police arrived and cried after he was arrested, deputies said. A blood sample has been submitted for testing. He declined to talk to investigators but repeatedly asked if he was under arrest and told them he was a law student.

The child suffered fractures to her skull and wrist, sheriff’s Cpl. David Thornburg said. Had she not been wearing her helmet, which broke into six pieces upon impact, her injuries likely would have been fatal, Thornburg said.

Spokane County commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance in September requiring helmets for bicycling and other wheel sports in unincorporated areas. The law applies to children 3 through 15 years old, but it carries no penalty, Thornburg said.

“It’s not about ticket revenues. We are trying to prevent tragedies,” he said.

Nguyen is an intern for longtime Spokane lawyer Mark Vovos. Vovos said he’s going to try to represent him.

“It’s the least I can do,” Vovos said. He described Nguyen as “a wonderful worker” who is interning through a Gonzaga program.

Gonzaga Law School Dean Jane Korn sent an email to students Monday that confirmed Nguyen was a student.

“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and her family,” Korn wrote. “Our thoughts are also with the student and his family during this difficult time.”

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