The victim of a auto-pedestrian collision in which her son was injured and her daughter was killed is being investigated for second-degree manslaughter because she was allegedly high on methamphetamine when she took her children across a dimly-lit portion of road, within 30 meters of two lit crosswalks, and was hit by a vehicle.
Sarah Burrows-Gust was critically injured with life-threatening injuries on Oct. 18 when she took her children, ages 5 and 7, and walked into traffic mid-block between Mansfield and Montgomery on Monroe Street. The trio, who also had a dog on a leash, was hit by a vehicle. Burrows-Gust and her daughter, 5-year-old Elayna Burrows-Gust, suffered life-threatening injuries; Elayna died the next morning. Her son suffered minor injuries and was later released from the hospital.
Witnesses to the collision said that instead of crossing the street at Monroe and Mansfield, where there is a marked crosswalk, and Montgomery and Monroe, where there is a traffic light as well as a marked crosswalk with walk signals, they observed Burrows-Gust crossing mid-block where there was no crosswalk.
Michelle Lee, one of the witnesses, was standing outside the Hi Neighbor Tavern and commented to another witness, who was standing with her, "What is that lady doing walking in the roadway with cars coming?"
Lee told police officers it appeared the driver of the vehicle was going approximately 30 mph at the time of the collision. The second witness standing with Lee, Brian Anderson, told police he couldn't believe the woman was crossing the road in traffic.
The driver of the vehicle said she was driving the speed limit and did not see the three in the roadway until she was right on top of them and had no time to hit her brakes before the collision. A passenger in the vehicle said it happened so suddenly he didn't have time to say anything to the driver before the collision.
Rich Burrows, Sarah's father, claims the young family wasn't jaywalking, but was trying to chase down their black Labrador.
"The way I understand it is the dog ran out into the road. Elayna went jetting after him. Sarah went after Elayna and then Evan went after Sarah," Burrows said.
Burrows-Gust and her children were taken to the Sacred Heart Medical Center for treatment of their injuries. Later in the evening as they were being treated, an Intensive Care Unit nurse confirmed to police officers Sarah Burrows-Gust had tested positive for methamphetamine.
As officers continued their investigation, they were contacted by a caseworker with Child Protective Services, who said there was an open case involving child neglect with Burrows-Gust and her children due to domestic violence and drug use. Rich Burrows, however, said his daughter always made her children a top priority.
"Sarah's a very caring woman. She loves those kids. She'd do anything for them. She would never put them in harm's way," he said.
Police have filed a search warrant to seize Burrows-Gust's blood and urine samples from Sacred Heart Medical Center in order to have them tested by the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab to confirm the presence of methamphetamine in her system and are investigating Burrows-Gust for neglect in the death of her daughter.