Mother gets 2 1/2 years for wreck that killed son

EVERETT — On Wednesday, in a nearly empty courtroom, no one said the dead boy’s name.

Isayah Forbes was killed by a drunken driver September 2010 — a month before his eighth birthday.

The pickup he was riding in ran off a rural Arlington road and crashed into power poles and a large boulder. Isayah was partially ejected out a rear passenger door as the truck flipped on its side. The heavy vehicle crushed him.

His mom, Kortnie Forbes was behind the wheel.

A Snohomish County judge on Wednesday sentenced Forbes to 2 1/2 years in prison — the low-end under state law.

The high-end sentence established by the state’s Sentencing Guidelines Commission for someone with the woman’s limited criminal history would have added an extra 10 months to the prison term.

Both sides recommended a low-end sentence to Superior Court Judge George Appel. They offered little explanation why.

Everett defense attorney Mark Mestel said he can only imagine the anguish of losing a child, not to mention being charged with a crime in connection with the death.

Forbes, 26, pleaded guilty in March to vehicular homicide. As part of the plea, she didn’t admit any wrongdoing. Instead, Forbes agreed that a jury likely would find her guilty.

“I’m truly sorry. This has destroyed my family,” a tearful Forbes said Wednesday.

Deputy prosecutor Tobin Darrow alleged that Forbes had a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit when she ran off the road. Forbes reportedly told police she’d drank two beers and two shots of rum before driving toward home with her three children, ages 3 to 7.

A witness told investigators she saw the pickup swerve off the road, striking a wooden power pole. The truck slid broadside into a large boulder. The impact tipped the truck over onto the passenger side. The rear door opened and Isayah slid partially out of his seat belt and through the door. He was crushed.

Paramedics found Forbes inside the cab of the truck, holding her son’s hand.

A sheriff’s detective concluded that Isayah likely would have survived if he’d been in a booster seat. Forbes’ other two children also weren’t buckled into safety seats, but lived through the crash.

The surviving children were removed from the home. A state investigation concluded that Forbes neglected her children, and legal steps were taken to terminate the woman’s parental rights.

Child Protective Services had investigated Forbes in the past.

An anonymous tipster called CPS in July 2010, alleging that Forbes was driving intoxicated, every day, with her children in the car. State social workers investigated Forbes for similar allegations dating back to 2003.

The July caller alleged the Forbes was leaving her children in filthy conditions and drinking all day until she passed out.

CPS opened an investigation and a social worker visited the home. Forbes denied using drugs or alcohol or driving around drunk with her children. She agreed to take a urinalysis and tested negative for alcohol.

The social worker prepared to close the case a month later, but a supervisor requested follow-up work. A child protective team was asked to dig deeper into the allegations. The office had a backlog of cases for the local team and the investigation was put on a waiting list. It was to be investigated in October 2010.

A month before that could happen, Isayah was dead.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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