EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 28, 2014

Lawrence man clings to life after Haverhill Street OUI crash

By Jill Harmacinski
jharmacinski@eagletribune.com

---- — LAWRENCE — In a coma with diminished brain activity, Jose Diaz, 24, remains in a Boston hospital clinging to life after being critically injured when he was hit by a full-size pickup truck driven by an allegedly drunken driver on Saturday, Jan. 18.

“He’s not improving,” said Jonathan Diaz, Jose’s younger brother, yesterday.

Diaz, a pedestrian at Haverhill and Warren streets, was thrown 20 feet in the air and launched 100 feet after Nathan Sanborn Jr., 21, allegedly plowed into him in a black Ford F-150 pickup that night. The accident occurred at 9:30 p.m.

Bail was set at $15,000 for Sanborn, of Kensington, N.H., who was charged with drunken driving, negligent operation and drunken driving resulting in serious injury. A union electrician, Sanborn was also court-ordered not to drink alcohol, submit to random urine tests and to report to probation once per week. He was also ordered not to drive in Massachusetts unless he was properly licensed.

Sanborn is being held at Middleton Jail, a spokesman for Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins confirmed yesterday.

At Sanborn’s arraignment in Lawrence District Court a week ago, a prosecutor described Diaz as being in “extremely critical condition.” Yesterday, Jose’s brother, Jonathan, said his brother’s condition has not improved at all. He never regained consciousness after the accident. In a coma, he developed both pneumonia and ran a high fever, Jonathan said.

Doctors inserted tubes in his mouth and his stomach so he can breathe and get nutrients fed to him, he said.

He said the night before the accident, the two brothers were together and full of life celebrating Jonathan’s 24th birthday. The brothers are very close in age as Jose was born on Feb. 9, 1989 and Jonathan on Jan. 17, 1990.

“He hasn’t spoken or opened his eyes. ... My mom is taking it real bad,” he said.

Diaz, who was not married, worked at Burger King in Salem, N.H.

He said family members remain focused, visiting Jose at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital where he was taken after the accident. Jonathan, pointing at Jose’s lack of brain activity, said he and other family members believe Sanborn should face additional charges.

Officers said they smelled both alcohol and urine on Sanborn the night of the crash. He told police he’d been drinking at Hans Garden in Haverhill and had two beers. A breath test showed his blood alcohol level was .17, twice the legal limit, according to court papers.

Police yesterday said the accident remains under investigation. No further charges have been filed although Sanborn could be indicted by the Essex County Grand Jury and face more severe penalties at the Superior Court level.

Sanborn is due back in court on Feb. 28 for a pre-trial conference. “And we will be there,” Jonathan said.

Joseph Edwards, chairman of the Haverhill License Commission, has asked Haverhill police to also gather information about the accident and summons Hans Garden owner Tony Hans to the Feb. 20 commission meeting.

The commission will consider disciplinary action against the popular Chinese food restaurant and bar on Washington Street, which has had a history of alcohol-related problems in the past.

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Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.