Family of girl killed in yard wants driver to face criminal charges

Family of girl killed in yard wants driver to face criminal charges »Play Video
This photo of 11-year-old Kylie Hornych was displayed onstage at her memorial service Saturday morning. (KATU photo)

ALOHA, Ore. – A family whose 11-year-old daughter was hit and killed while in her yard is fighting for answers after they learned the driver won't face charges.

Prosecutors say David Herman suffered a diabetic episode and lost control of his car, hitting Kylie Hornych on April 4. The car stopped when it smashed into her house at Southwest 160th and Farmington.

The family returned to the home Thursday to discuss the incident after having moved out of the house since the accident. They are still in disbelief, and the shock of that day has never really worn off.

The house is fixed up, but the family is still trying to deal with the loss. And they didn't expect another devastating blow.

To deal with the pain of knowing she'll never see her granddaughter again, Carolyn Duffy carries a picture of Kylie at all times.

"Heartbreak, sadness that she's not here and never will be again," she says. "She never even had a chance to live her life."

Three months ago there was no explanation for why a driver crashed into mailboxes, cars, swerved for a mile or so before crushing Kylie and then crashing into the house.

But Kylie's family fully expected to have answers and expected the driver to face consequences for killing their little girl.

"(It's) hard to make sense of it," says her aunt, Tracie Thompson. "How one minute she could be there and gone the next. And how someone could make a decision that he made to get into the car when he wasn't well. And he took a life as a result."

Her family calls life after Kylie, Hell on Earth. Thompson, a diabetic herself, doesn't see how the driver's medical condition is any excuse for killing the heart of this family.

"Because of somebody's carelessness and irresponsibility, a child was killed," says Duffy. "A child that didn't need to be killed. There was no reason, absolutely no reason for him to run out of his diabetic supplies. None whatsoever."

The family says they've received a lot of support from neighbors. People they've never met have donated money and are now supporting the family's fight for criminal charges in this case.

Prosecutors' reasons for not charging the driver

Prosecutors say they don't think they have enough in the investigative reports that would help them prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver, David Herman, committed manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide in this case.

The Washington County district attorney's office says its decision not to charge him in the death of Kylie Hornych stems in part from his history as a diabetic and how he'd managed his disease.

He told investigators he'd checked his blood sugar that morning at breakfast before heading to his job as a science teacher at Liberty High School. But he admitted he had run out of the test strips that he normally used at lunch time. That meant he had to ballpark the amount of insulin he needed to give himself. The insulin he gave himself apparently wasn't enough. His blood sugar dipped, and he had that diabetic episode moments before hitting and killing Kylie.

He presented himself to investigators as someone who managed his disease well and those investigative documents obtained by KATU News show he told them he'd never had a diabetes-related crash before.

The documents reveal "when asked if Herman has ever lost consciousness due to low blood sugar, he recalled only once. He had overexerted himself working in the yard of a previous house."

One of the first deputies to arrive on scene at the Hornychs' house described Herman still at the wheel of his Prius with "an odd grin on his face and a glazed appearance in his eyes. ... I asked Herman what had happened. Herman, still grinning, said he didn't know where he was. I asked where he was coming from and he said he did not know."

The deputy concluded: "Based on my investigation Herman was less than 1.5 miles from a Fred Meyer store where he could have easily obtained glucometer strips which would have allowed him to accurately test himself and accurately medicate himself. Based on my investigation Herman did not take proper precautions to properly dose himself with medications."

The documents show Herman's blood sugar was 51 shortly after the crash. He told officers he was confused why it was so low, because giving himself a low dose of insulin at lunch time should have given him high blood sugar, not low.

Canzano reported from Portland.