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Published: Thursday, 11/16/2000

Driver not charged in 3-year-old's death

BY CHRISTINA HALL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Tim Carter pauses in front of a homemade memorial to his 3-year-old neighbor, Malek White, on West Delaware Avenue near Trenton Avenue. Tim Carter pauses in front of a homemade memorial to his 3-year-old neighbor, Malek White, on West Delaware Avenue near Trenton Avenue.
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Sherhonda Stevens saw a car bearing down on her 3-year-old son, Malek White, near their house in the 1400 block of West Delaware Avenue near Trenton Avenue, and lunged toward him.

The driver, David Funches, didn't see the boy, but he did see his mother as she was trying to rescue her son.

“I dove in front of the car to get my son. It happened so fast,” Ms. Stevens, 28, said yesterday near a memorial of flowers and stuffed animals at the pole Mr. Funches's car hit after striking the boy about 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Friends and neighbors consoled Ms. Stevens and her 23-year-old husband, Eric White, and remembered the boy whom they described as sweet and as one who loved to make everybody smile.

“He was always smiling for the camera. He knew he was the baby boy,” said Mr. White, who wore a knit cap bearing Malek's name.

Ms. Stevens had just parked her vehicle after she and Malek returned from visiting her sister in Ottawa Hills.

Malek was nearly on the curb across from the vehicle when his mother saw the westbound car and tried to reach him.

Malek White Malek White
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“[Mr. Funches] swerved to avoid her, but hit the child,” Toledo police Officer Martin French, an accident investigator, said. “Basically, it was a panic situation.”

Mr. Funches's car then hit the pole head-on. Mr. White said he found his son on the curb several houses away from where he was hit.

“I heard a loud crash and heard [skidding] before that,” next-door neighbor Don Strong, 44, said. “[Ms. Stevens] was hollering for the baby and saying, `Where's my baby?' He was a good kid, a beautiful kid. It makes me sick almost, thinking about it now.”

Malek was pronounced dead at Toledo Hospital. An autopsy was not performed.

Officials are not planning to charge Mr. Funches, 20, of West Toledo because the boy and his mother, who also was struck, walked in front of Mr. Funches car, Officer French said. Attempts to reach Mr. Funches were unsuccessful.

Officer French said Mr. Funches was looking for a former girlfriend at the time of the accident. Mr. Funches was circling the area when the accident occurred.

Although Mr. Funches will not be charged, Malek's father said he would like to see some kind of justice.

“It's not fair - my son's life was taken from him, but [Mr. Funches] goes home to his family,” Mr. White said.

Although police said speed was not a factor in the accident, Debbie Villarreal, 45, who lives at the corner of Auburn and Delaware avenues, said she is circulating a petition to have speed bumps installed on the street. “Something's got to be done. This can't happen again,” Ms. Villarreal said as she, her daughter, Mandy Villarreal, 21, and her brother, Jamie Auldrich, 33, hung stuffed animals and an angel candle at the memorial.

Mr. White agreed.

“It's like a bad dream,” he said amid tears. “He was just going home to watch the movie he just got.”

In addition to his parents, Malek is survived by sisters, Sheontay Holman, 10; Deaundrea Hackett, 7, and Areona White, 6.

Services for Malek will be at 10 a.m. today in the Tate Funeral Home.



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