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Charges expected in Alabama child’s death

By Marty Roney, Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.

Jan. 11–WETUMPKA — Elmore County’s chief prosecutor said charges are expected to be filed against the driver of a vehicle that struck and killed a 5-year-old Titus boy Tuesday morning.

Ethan Marshall Woods was struck by an SUV about 6:30 a.m., said Sgt. Steve Jarrett, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Public Safety. Alabama state troopers are investigating the accident.

The incident occurred at the intersection of Titus and Thornton roads as Ethan was waiting for the school bus, reports show. Several students were at a bus stop at the time of the accident. None of the other children were injured, Jarrett said.

The driver of the 1995 Ford Explorer will have his blood tested to determine if alcohol was a contributing factor, District Attorney Randall Houston said.

“We got a court order this (Tuesday) morning calling for a blood test,” Houston said. “It will take two to three weeks for the results of the test to come back from forensics. We will go where the evidence takes us.

“But right now, in the early stages of the investigation, it looks like criminal charges will likely be filed against the driver. Of course this is a horrible tragedy, and if it’s proven that alcohol contributed to this child’s death, we will go after the driver.”

Houston would not release the driver’s name because charges have not been filed.

Ethan was a kindergarten student at Wetumpka Elementary School, said Judy Caton, spokeswoman for Elmore County Schools.

“Our counselors at the school are ready to help any student during this difficult time,” she said. “If they feel other counselors should be brought in from other schools to help, then that’s what we will do. We want to make sure the school operates as normally as possible, or at least as normally as possible in the wake of a tragedy like this.”

News of the death sent shock waves through the Titus area.

“You send your child off to school in the morning, and you don’t expect anything like this to happen,” said Kelly Parker, who lives in Titus. “What could be safer than going to school? I can’t imagine what this little boy’s parents are going through right now.”

Houston said his office will review the evidence when state troopers complete their investigation.

If charges are warranted, the driver could be arrested, he said. The case also could go before a future session of the Elmore County grand jury for review, he added.

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