Man jailed under $1M bond for head-on speed racing crash that killed 6-year-old boy in Gaston Co.

Donnie Cobb received a $1-million secured bond from the judge. He asked if the bond could be lowered, but was denied.
Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 3:58 PM EDT
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GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - A man has been charged and is jailed under a $1 million bond for a head-on speed racing car crash that left a 6-year-old boy dead in Gaston County in June.

Officials say 6-year-old Liam Lagunas died hours after the car he was in was struck head-on by a car that lost control while racing in Gaston County.

”God is in control,” says Brandi Birrittier, Liam’s mother.

She attended the bond hearing with her family and friends. Their heads were bowed in courtroom 2D today as charges for Donnie Ray Cobb were read out loud for the first time. Birrittier watching her son’s accused killer on a tv screen.

”The justice system has to fight for my baby and they will,” she says.

N.C. Highway Patrol said the crash happened shortly before 9:30 p.m. June 26 on U.S. 74 near Sparrow Springs Road.

Troopers said two cars were racing, traveling between 90 and 100 mph, when one of the cars lost control, crashed through the median and hit a car traveling the opposite direction head-on.

Prosecutors set more of the scene in court on Friday. Witnesses said Cobb and another car were going at “terrible speeds.” The two racing cars collided, which sent Cobb’s car over the median and into Lagunas’ car.

”This has been really hard and I appreciate everybody’s support the community and everybody else here,” says Birrittier.

Liam was taken to the hospital where he died. His father, Santiago, was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Troopers said the driver of the speeding car involved in the wreck, later identified as Donnie Ray Cobb, was taken to the hospital in critical condition. The driver of the other racing car stayed at the scene.

Following his release from the hospital, troopers arrested Cobb on July 15 and charged him with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to cause serious injury, reckless driving to endanger, driving while impaired, speed competition and second-degree murder.

An impatient Cobb sat in another room rushing the judge to give him his bond so he could go back to the hospital. Cobb received a $1-million secured bond from the judge. He asked if the bond could be lowered, but was denied.

”Is there any way you can lower the bond your honor so I can make it,” Cobb says.

As the words came out of Cobb’s mouth, Birrittier shook her head wanting to keep Cobb in jail.

”He was worried about his injuries. Not his or my son’s. So that shows you the kind of person he is,” says Birrittier.

As hard as today was, Lagunas says she knows her son is looking down on them not wanting them to feel sad.

”He’s greater than this world,” she says. “He wouldn’t want to see us go through this right now.”

WBTV briefly talked with Liam’s father who was also involved in the crash. He say he not only wants justice for his son but also for himself. He told us he wants the other driver that was racing charged as well.

Santiago Lagunas is still suffering from injuries sustained in the crash. He is currently wearing a neck brace and walking with a walker. In court today, he was wheeled in with a wheelchair. He is dealing with physical and emotional pain.

Liam Lagunas’ funeral was held on July 8 at Flint Groves Baptist Church on East Ozark Avenue in Gastonia.

A GoFundMe page has been created to provide financial assistance to Lagunas’ family.

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