November 4, 2012

DUI believed to be factor in death of 10-year-old boy, police say

A 10-year-old boy killed in a car crash late Saturday in Los Banos has been identified as Jayden Thomas, according to the Merced County coroner's office.

Los Banos police say DUI is believed to be a factor in the crash. The incident was reported at 11:22 p.m. at Place Road and East B Street.

The victim was a passenger in a 1992 BMW, struck by a 1991 Chevy pickup driven by Justin Nappi, 20, of Los Banos. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. Four additional occupants of the BMW, including two children ages 8 and 2, were taken to hospitals. Their condition is unknown, police said.

Nappi was arrested and booked on suspicion of felony DUI with injury, felony hit-and-run and gross vehicular manslaughter.

Eric Limon, coach of a local rookie peewee football team, said he knew Jayden because the boy played for another team. Limon said the crash happened not far from his home, and he went to the scene after being awakened by the commotion.

"Of course, (his) parents are in disbelief," Limon said.

Jayden attended the fifth grade at Volta Elementary School. Limon and others in the community held a car wash in Los Banos on Sunday to help raise funds for the boy's family.

"He was fun-loving, just a bright kid. He’d make you laugh," Limon said. "He was so outgoing. He was just an awesome individual."

Limon said the boy, his parents and two siblings had been driving home when they were struck by another vehicle. Limon said the family was driving late at night because Jayden had been injured earlier during the day in a football game, and had to go to the hospital.

"It's gut-wrenching. There's no words to describe what we're feeling right now," Limon said.

City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.

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