Detroit father pleads guilty to charges in I-94 crash that led to 7-year-old daughter's death

Wilburt Thomas accused of drinking, smoking pot before crash


ROMULUS, Mich. – A Detroit man accused of drinking and smoking marijuana the night he put his 7-year-old daughter in a stolen minivan and crashed on the freeway has pleaded guilty to charges in the case, according to officials.

Police said Wilburt Dion Thomas, 47, was driving the stolen van July 15, going too fast and weaving on I-94. He crashed into a disabled car on the side of the freeway, according to authorities.

Officials said Thomas told his daughter Dessandra to get help, allowing her to walk across the freeway by herself in the middle of the night. She was struck by another car and died at the scene.

Thomas pleaded guilty to manslaughter, second-degree child abuse and operating while intoxicated with an occupant under 16 years of age. The manslaughter charge has a sentence agreement of 4 1/2 to 15 years. The child abuse charge has a sentence agreement of 4 1/2 to 10 years.

For the operating while intoxicated charge, Thomas will receive credit for time served. All of the counts will run concurrently, according to officials.

During a preliminary hearing, police detailed on the stand how Dessandra called 911 for help. Officials were on the move while pinging the phone. They saw the white van, with Thomas inside, but no sign of the girl, according to authorities.

They got out of the patrol car and started searching on foot, eventually finding Dessandra facedown in a ditch wearing pajamas and no shoes, police said. The driver who hit the girl called 911.

Thomas is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 24.

ORIGINAL STORY: 7-year-old Detroit girl killed while crossing I-94 after surviving drunk driving crash

"The confluence of events in this case caused the untimely death of the defendant’s young daughter. The alleged actions of the father included driving a stolen car while highly intoxicated, having open intoxicants and marijuana in the car, crashing into a disabled car, and allowing his daughter to leave the car and walk alone across the highway to her death," said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy. "This is a tragic and devastating case."

WATCH: Arraignment of man charged in connection with 1-94 crash that killed 7-year-old daughter

Posted by WDIV Local 4 / ClickOnDetroit on Saturday, August 11, 2018

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