Father sentenced for 7-year-old's death on I-94

Sandra Burts was in court Thursday morning clutching a photo of her 7-year-old daughter, Desandra, who died trying to get help her father after an accident on I-94. 

“This is just traumatic for all parties involved,” said Burts. 

Desandra’s father, 47-year-old Wilburt Thomas, previously pleaded guilty to three charges including involuntary manslaughter and second degree child abuse for the 7-year-old’s death on I-94 in Romulus last summer. 

“I think about my daughter every day,” Thomas said. “I miss her sincerely.” 

Police say around 2 a.m. on July 15th, after stealing a van from work, Thomas, while driving drunk and his daughter inside, slammed the van into a disabled vehicle. 

Concerned for her father, Desandra got out the smashed car to get help. Unfortunately, as she was texting 911, another driver accidentally hit her, causing her to die. 

“Seven years old and she had the presence in mind, the ability and the intelligence to take measures to try and get help,” said Judge Michael Hathaway of Wayne County Circuit court. 

Burts described the giving spirit of her little girl. Always smiling and always putting others first. 

Specifically, Burts remembers a day last spring when Desandra came home without shoes. 

“I said to her ‘Desandra, where are your shoes?’ and she said ‘I don’t know’ Then when her best friend came over without no shoes, Desandra said ‘as long as you’re my friend, you’ll never have holes in your shoes,’”

Desandra was also described as an exceptional student. The judge even referred to her as a clever and resourceful young girl. 

“She was obviously a child that was very cared for and had a wonderful future ahead of her,” said Judge Hathaway. 

But with that future harshly ripped away, Judge Hathaway sentenced Thomas to 4 in the half to 15-years in prison and calling Desandra’s death just another example of bloodbath that accompanies drinking and driving. 

“Drinking and driving don’t mix,” said Judge Hathaway. “They have tragic consequences way too often.”