TAYLORSVILLE — Unified police detective Chuck Malm called it “heartbreaking.”
“This is senseless. This is one of those things that is completely, 100-percent preventable,” he said.
Early Tuesday, a teen girl was killed, three others seriously injured, and a 19-year-old man arrested after a night of joyriding by a group of young adults and juveniles ended in a wrong-way, head-on collision.
“We’re trying to put it all together. But from what it sounds like, it may have been some teenagers joyriding. Alcohol may be a factor in this. That’s under investigation,” Malm said. “This is just kids, teens, making some really poor choices.”
Casey James Ziemelius, 19, was arrested for investigation of DUI/automobile homicide and two counts of aggravated assault.
Ziemelius was driving west in a Chevrolet Trailblazer with five other passengers near 4500 South and Atherton Drive (1100 West), and was speeding, according to a Salt Lake County Jail report.
“Two victims in a vehicle traveling eastbound saw the suspect vehicle cross over the median and into their lane of travel. The victim reported attempting swerving out of the way of the suspect vehicle and the suspect vehicle then changed direction and appeared to be intentionally trying to crash in to them head on,” the report states.
The impact from the crash caused the Trailblazer to roll. One of the passengers in the SUV, a girl who police say was either 14 or 15, was killed. Three others were taken to local hospitals in serious condition, the report states. Another juvenile girl in the SUV was not injured.
Malm said it was “pretty miraculous” that a couple in the Toyota that was hit walked away from the crash with minor injuries.
As for whether the abrupt lane change was intentional, Malm said that was still under investigation. But early indications, he said, show the crash was likely the result of young people who once they got together as a group, “weren’t thinking.”
“It just sounds like these kids were joyriding and up to no good,” he said.
Ziemelius ran away from the crash scene but was captured a short time later by police.
“The suspect had an odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his person. The suspect also showed signs of impairment,” police noted in their report.
The name of the deceased girl was not immediately released.
Police had twice come in contact with the same SUV earlier in evening. The first time was about 10:30 p.m. Monday when officers received a call of a reckless driver near 3900 South and 500 East. Nearby officers spotted the vehicle near 3900 South and Main Street. But when they tried to pull it over, the Trailblazer sped off, Malm said. The officers did not pursue it at that time.
About 12:45 a.m. Tuesday, police were called to an apartment complex in Millcreek to check on suspicious activity, Malm said.
“Our officers came across a group of individuals who got into the same vehicle that fled from the traffic stop,” he said.
As the officers got out of their car to talk to the group, they sped off. …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Top stories