More details released after DUI hit-and-run in downtown Salt Lake City

Chauntel Marie Garza. Photo Courtesy: Salt Lake County

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, April 22, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Officials have released more details after a man was critically injured early Saturday morning after being hit by an alleged DUI driver in downtown Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City Police Sgt. John Ashdown told Gephardt Daily the victim was walking near 300 South 300 West about 2 a.m. when he was struck by a white passenger vehicle.

The victim was transported to the University of Utah Hospital in critical condition.

A probable cause statement from the Third District Court of Salt Lake County said the driver of the vehicle, Chauntel Marie Garza, 22, is facing charges of DUI with serious bodily injury by negligent operation, a third-degree felony, failure to remain at the scene of an accident involving serious injury, a third-degree felony and open container in a vehicle on a highway, a class C misdemeanor.

The probable cause statement said officials received a report that a man was struck by a vehicle and the vehicle left the scene.

“Witnesses who observed the accident stated a white passenger vehicle with three occupants hit a male pedestrian at approximately 40 mph,” the statement said. “The witnesses said there would be damage to the front of the vehicle.”

An officer located the vehicle at approximately 400 S. 900 West as it was turning to go east on 400 South. The white vehicle had three occupants, heavy front-end damage and a broken windshield.

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The officer made a traffic stop on the vehicle at 755 W. 400 South, the statement said, believing it to be the vehicle that struck the man.

The officer who stopped the vehicle could smell an odor of an alcoholic beverage from the driver. A second officer responded, who also could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from her breath, the statement said. The driver, identified as Garza, failed the field sobriety tests and was arrested for DUI and handcuffed.

A witness was brought to the traffic stop, who identified the vehicle and the driver as the suspect in the hit-and-run pedestrian accident.

A bottle of liquor was located during the inventory before the vehicle was impounded, the statement said. The bottle was open in the backseat of the vehicle and the contents had spilled out onto the floorboard.

Investigators on scene told Gephardt Daily it was unclear if the victim was in a crosswalk at the time of the accident.

Police have yet to release the name of the victim.

Gephardt Daily will update this story as more information becomes available.

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