Drake James Pakootas would have been 16 next month. He was set to get his driver’s license, and he talked excitedly about where he wanted to apply for college.
On Saturday afternoon near Inchelium, a suspected drunk driver struck and killed Pakootas and injured his girlfriend, said Pakootas’ mother, Amanda Hoffman. The driver then sped away.
The pair was hit while driving down a rural road on a four-wheeler during their hunting trip, Hoffman said. Pakootas’ girlfriend went to Sacred Heart with severe injuries.
“I had to go to Seattle on Friday, and I remember this feeling that something is wrong,” Hoffman said. “I was telling him that morning to please come with me, but he said it was hunting season. He said, ‘I promise I’ll be safe.’ And I let him go.”
Hoffman said the driver drove through a stop sign and struck the teenagers around 1 p.m.
“Drake was so involved with his family. He was one of the most responsible teenagers I’ve ever met,” Stephanie Tyre, a family friend, said.
A GoFundMe for the teenager, who was a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, raised over $2,300 as of Monday afternoon. The money would pay for funeral and possible legal costs, according to the GoFundMe page.
MJ Cooper, 15, is Tyre’s brother and met Pakootas when they went to elementary school together. He said Pakootas excelled academically and had plans to join his high school basketball team.
Pakootas considered his family one of his main priorities, Tyre said.
“He was at every one of my kid’s birthday parties, you know,” Tyre said. “He would finish his Thanksgiving dinner with his family and come right over after.”
Pakootas was mature for his age, Hoffman said. Once at a grocery store Pakootas bought a chicken sandwich from the deli counter, and then offered it to someone encamped outside, Hoffman said. If they had leftovers after a family meal, Pakootas asked to give it to local homeless shelters and food banks.
“He was so sweet, so kind, so loving,” Hoffman said.
Colville Tribal Police did not immediately respond to request for comment about the crash. As of Monday afternoon the department itself has not released any information about the crash.
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