Drunk Driver Kills Student, Mother

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

It's been a gut-wrenching day for these students at Lansing Catholic High School.

Gathered in prayer, they all are searching for some kind of reason why their friend, 17-year-old Major Washington, was taken from them.

"It's so hard for me to grasp, he's gone and he was so young," says classmate Tsha Archer.

"When it hit us, it hit us hard. It's been a really rough day," echoes classmate Molly Piecuch.

Police say Washington and his mother, 46-year-old Sylvia Porter, were killed Monday night when a truck driven by 27-year-old Daniel Burwell collided with their car on Pennsylvania and Cavanaugh.

Now, the close-knit school is left without the bubbly junior football player. Students gathered Tuesday to share their memories with us.

"Whenever I think of him, I think of his smile, and it makes me smile," says Melissa LeBlanc.

"He was one of the most well-known kids in school," says good friend Sam Reedy.

"Things like this aren't supposed to happen," says Principal Tom Maloney.

Maloney says Washington had friends "in every corner of the school," and his mother was always involved.

"Sylvia was such a strong, loving mother," Maloney says.

Burwell has been charged with eight criminal counts, including two counts of 2nd degree murder and two counts of driving while intoxicated causing death. He's also been charged with two counts of failing to stop at a scene resulting in death, because police say he fled the scene immediately.

Lt. Noel Garcia says police too are having a hard time.

"It was heartbreaking," he says. "It was a heartbreaking incident for everyone."

Washington was an only child; his father is now left without son and wife.

And this school, left without their classmate, left grappling with his death.

"He was gone so quickly," classmate Archer says. "Don't take any day for granted."

Burwell is being held on $250,000 bond and his pre-trial is set for May 1 at 2 p.m. in front of Judge Cherry.


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