Van crashes into Ross store in Burien; several people injured

BURIEN, Wash. — Dec. 18, 2019 Update: Prosecutors say the suspect driving the van, 51-year-old Lee R. Skelly, was using meth hours prior to the crash at Ross in Burien. Investigators are still determining what charges to file for his girlfriend, Maria-Theresa Moore, 49. The sheriff’s office said she was attempting to shoplift “knick-knacks” before getting into the van Skelly was driving.

A judge found probable cause to charge Skelly with four counts of vehicular assault on Wednesday. His bail will be set Thursday.

The two-year-old toddler run over by the van, identified by police as David Chiche, remains at Harborview Medical Center in critical condition.

Dec. 17, 2019 Update: A shoplifter’s getaway car plowed into the Ross store in Burien Monday night, hurting 11 people.

It caused panicked chaos at the store that was busy with holiday shoppers and - causing panicked chaos at the store, leaving some with critical injuries.

Now we’re seeing cell phone video from moments after the crash, taken by a mother who jumped to protect her son from the van.

Marita Cobian took video from inside the Ross and you can hear the chaos in the video.

She and her young son were shopping for Christmas presents when the van came barreling in.

“I hear the tires screeching, and I look towards the window and I saw a van, and I blinked and all I heard was a giant explosion. And people started screaming, said Joel Cobian, who is 11 years old.

Her older son translated for KIRO7 as we spoke with her about what happened.

“She told me me the car sends her flying and she tried to protect my little brother, so she tried to push him out of the way but the impact sent both of them flying,” said Marco Ortega.

In the video she took you can see scrapes on her hands. She had to go to the hospital and now needs a neck brace.

“She has very sharp pain on her neck,” Ortega said.

She's one of 11 people hurt in the crash. Three were hurt critically and rushed to Harborview Medical Center. The victims at HMC includes 2-year-old boy who was in his stroller when the van crashed. On Tuesday, he was still in the ICU.

The King County Sheriff’s Office said a woman was shoplifting at this store, then ran outside and into the passenger seat of the van.

Investigators say the van sped off, first hitting a parked car, before slamming through the store.

That parked car the suspect hit is the car Cobian was driving.

The family believe had their car not been there to slow down the van, even more people would've been hurt.

And this Christmas season, they're holding each other a little tighter

“In the blink of an eye, tragedy happens,” Ortega said.

Our original story on Dec. 16, 2019:

A van crashed through the front window and the check stand of a Burien Ross Dress for Less store, injuring 11 people, including three injured critically, including a 2-year-old boy who was hit by the van while he was in his stroller, deputies said.

The crash happened at the 15800 block of 1st Avenue at about 9:15 p.m. Investigators said before the crash, a woman was seen shoplifting multiple items before leaving the store.

According to Sgt. Ryan Abbott with the King County Sheriff’s Office, the woman ran out and got inside the passenger seat of the van, driven by a 51-year-old man. Once she got in, the driver accelerated into a car parked in front of the store.

Witnesses told KIRO 7 after sideswiping the car, the van continued to accelerate through the windows and front doors of the store.

“The whole front of the store exploded,” said Ilsa Mendez, who was shopping with her family.

According to Abbott, the three who were critically injured were taken to Harborview Medical Center. A 2-year-old child, a 41-year-old man and a person in their 30s were being treated for impact injuries and severe lacerations.

Several others were treated at the scene and taken to local hospitals, Abbott said.

The driver was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of drugs and the passenger was also arrested.

Based on the damage, the van crashed into the store at a high rate of speed, Abbott said.

The investigation remains ongoing.