SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah, Aug. 7, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — A Salt Lake County man has been charged with multiple felonies after Utah Highway Patrol troopers say he drove the wrong direction on Interstate 15, causing a fatal head-on collision, then fled the accident scene after stealing the vehicle of a witness who had stopped to make sure the suspect was OK.
Manaure Gonzalez-Rea, 36, is being held without bail in the Salt Lake County Jail on suspicion of:
- Automobile homicide criminal negligence DUI of alcohol/drugs, a second-degree felony
- Theft, a second-degree felony
- Failure to remain at accident involving death, a third-degree felony
- Driving under influence of alcohol and/or drugs, a class A misdemeanor
- Reckless driving, a class B misdemeanor
Court documents filed by an officer of the Utah Highway Patrol say the accident happened at about 1:10 a.m. Saturday in the area of 2264 S. I-15.
“Dispatch advised that a pickup truck was driving wrong way going southbound in the northbound lanes,” the trooper’s statement says. “The truck hit a Toyota Corolla head on. The driver of the Toyota Corolla was pronounced dead on scene at approximately 01:27 hours.”
UHP Trooper Colton Freckleton told Gephardt Daily the Corolla driver’s passenger, a 20-year-old woman, was also injured in the collision.
Gonzalez-Rea is the registered owner of the Toyota Tacoma pickup responsible for the crash, the statement says.
“A witness, who was uninvolved with the crash stopped out after the crash had occurred. The witness helped attend to the driver and the passenger of the pickup truck. The witness pulled Mr. Gonzalez-Rea from the driver seat of the truck that had caused the crash by driving recklessly the wrong way and was now up-side down with the truck laying on it’s roof.”
The “good Samaritan” placed Gonzalez-Rea “into the bed of his truck,” the statement says.
“Mr. Gonzalez-Rea then stole the witness’s truck and left the scene of the crash,” the trooper’s statement says. “I was updated on where the now stolen truck was by dispatch following it on camera. I was able to locate the stolen truck and made a traffic stop in the area of I-80 Redwood off ramp intersection. I conducted a high-risk stop and placed Mr. Gonzalez-Rea under arrest without incident.”
“Gonzalez-Rea had a key fob in his pocket which had a Toyota symbol on it. Mr. Gonzalez-Rea also had a wallet in his pocket with a Utah driver license that matched the registered owner of the Toyota Tacoma pickup Truck. Mr. Gonzalez-Rea was cleared by medical and the witness had his truck returned to him.”
Gonzalez-Rea was transported to the UHP Murray Section 4 Office.
Gonzalez-Rea was given and failed field sobriety tests, and was not given other tests due to language barriers, the statement says.
“PBT (Preliminary Breath Test) was positive for alcohol,” the statement says. “Based off my training, Mr. Gonzalez-Rea was too impaired to safely operate a motor vehicle. I arrested Mr. Gonzalez-Rea for DUI.”
A warrant was issued for a blood draw, and two vials of blood were collected without incident, the statement says.
The officer suggested Gonzalez-Rea be held without bail due to the evidence to support the felony charges, the likelihood he would flee again if released on bail, and the danger he could pose to the community. A judge agreed to hold the suspect without bail.