Maj. Michael Rapich of the Utah Highway Patrol said the July Fourth weekend was "discouraging and that's an enormous understatement." He said police had been trying to educate the public about the importance of wearing seatbelts and the dangers of aggressive, drunken and distracted driving.
"And still, we had two separate crashes and nine fatalities," Rapich added. "Both of those crashes appeared to have involved aggressive driving in one form or another, and both of them were absolutely avoidable."
Paul Mumford, 36, of West Jordan was charged with homicide Monday. Police said he smelled of alcohol when he was taken to a hospital Saturday after a head-on collision that killed Delphine John, 44, of Farmington and her daughters, Anaya Orozco, 3, and Deliah Ramirez, 18, and critically injured her husband.
Witnesses said Mumford, who was driving a pickup truck, was weaving between lanes and tailgating before he turned around and drove the wrong way in the westbound lanes of Interstate 80. Investigators said they found no indication that Mumford braked before hitting the Chevrolet Suburban carrying John's family with such force the engine was found 10 feet away.
Mumford allegedly told troopers he had had "a couple of beers and had been at the casino for a couple of hours."
The second crash occurred Sunday when a van driven by Samantha Blueeyes, 23, of Salt Lake City, struck a sports car driven by Cody Farrabee, 22, of Queen City, Ariz., the UHP said. Investigators believe Blueeyes was trying to pass another vehicle on U.S. 191 near Monticello when she hit the car head on.
Blueeyes, Alfreda A. Bowman, 28, Michael A. Blueeyes, 22, and Esmerelda Valesquez, 11, all of Salt Lake City, were killed in the van with one passenger surviving. Farrabee, and his passenger, Rheana Hazel, 23, of Las Vegas, were also killed.