Drunk driver who crashed on I-94 pleads guilty after daughter killed looking for help

A father pleaded guilty Wednesday to manslaughter after his daughter was killed looking for help on I-94 when he crashed the stolen vehicle he was driving under the influence. 

Wilburt Thomas, 47, accepted a plea bargain for manslaughter, 4 1/2 to 15 years, second-degree child abuse, 4 1/2 to 10 years, and operating while intoxicated with an occupant under 16 years of age.

Police said around 2 a.m. July 15, Thomas crashed a van stolen from his employer while intoxicated with his 7-year-old daughter Desandra in the vehicle. He reportedly hit a disabled vehicle on I-94 in Romulus and his daughter left the vehicle to get help. Desandra was hit and killed by another driver, who will not face any charges.

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The Wayne County assistant prosecutor said he told witnesses that Desandra went to get help -- showing he was aware she got out of the vehicle on the dangerous interstate. The child is seen on nearby surveillance video walking from the crash scene in her pink pajamas.

An officer who responded to the scene testified that he arrived to find Thomas at the crash scene with a head injury. He said Thomas appeared to be intoxicated and there was a 40 oz. beer bottle on the ground.

Prosecutors argued Thomas engaged in a series of decisions that's ultimately led to the child's death, including driving a vehicle intoxicated -- two times the legal limit -- with marijuana in his system in the middle of the night with his daughter without proper child restraints and safety, then told her to or allowed her to get out of the car.

Thomas is expected to be sentenced on January 24 before Judge Bridget Hathaway.