WOODINVILLE, Wash. - A Snohomish County mother is devastated after losing her teenage son in a hit and run crash. 16-year-old Jonah Espinosa died Friday morning, after being hit and dragged by the driver of a van on I-405 in Tukwila.
Kelly Sutin had an unbreakable bond with her first-born child, Jonah.
“He was probably my best friend,” she said. “He had an old soul.”
Sutin said she is numb facing the reality of life without him. Thursday, the night before his death, Sutin said Jonah returned home to Woodinville after a long visit with his father and grandparents.
“He just hugged me all night and said, ‘Mommy I missed you so much.’ He loves just being with family and friends,” said Sutin.
Sutin said the next morning, she went into his room to wake him up for school and noticed he was gone, and so was is dirt bike. Worried he was missing, Sutin and her family immediately began posting flyers in Woodinville and on social media.
“My sister was still here putting flyers together. And she sent me a text message that said, ‘911 you need to come home.’ And when I showed up, the sheriff was here. And he just looked at me and didn’t say anything. And I knew,” said Sutin, realizing her son was dead.
Sutin said she doesn’t know why Jonah drove so far away from home on his dirt bike. Washington State Patrol said a 51-year-old Snohomish man was driving a van southbound on I-405 at SR 167 in Tukwila when the van hit the dirt bike from behind. The bike was pinned under the van’s bumper. WSP troopers said the man kept driving on the interstate for three miles before exiting and calling 911.
“He could have at least held his hand and put his head and held it in his lap, no matter what he did. He should have stayed with my child. He had no right to leave him in the road. And I do not believe that it was his conscience that made him pull over in a parking lot and call 911 and freaked out. No. You hit someone, you drug their vehicle for three miles. You knew what you had done,” said Sutton.
Sutin said a piece of her heart has been torn out, but said no one is feeling the loss quite like Jonah’s younger sister Lilyanna.
“He was like my best friend. He was my brother but it was different because he understood me more than anyone,” said 13-year-old Lilyanna Espinosa. “I just wish I could have held him and told him that I loved him one more time.”
More time is what Jonah’s stepsister, Natia, said she wished he had with family and friends.
“He was so young and he had so much potential and things to look forward to. Like getting a job, graduating high school, going to college, getting married. He had all of that taken away from him,” said 18-year-old Natia Kekelia.
Now what they have left to remember Jonah by is his passion for music, skateboarding, life and the people he loved. But for Sutin, she said right now those memories just aren’t enough to ease her pain
“I don’t think I will ever recover,” she said.
The 51-year-old driver is being held in King County Jail. Officials said he’s facing charges including felony hit and run. Jonah’s family created a GoFundMe account to pay for his funeral expenses. Any money left over will go towards his younger sister’s college fund.