Officials: 5 victims in Wasatch County crash were from Honduras

Jamie Don McKenzie (inset) is charged in the DUI dump truck crash that killed six in Wasatch County. Photos: Wasatch County Jail; Utah Highway Patrol

WASATCH COUNTY, Utah, Oct. 22, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — Officials said Monday they have identified three more of the victims in the Wasatch County traffic collision Friday that claimed the lives of six people, and are in the process of notifying their families.

The men, who were traveling in a Dodge Ram pickup, were of Honduran descent, said a news release from Utah Highway Patrol.

“Currently, the Department of Public Safety Victim Advocate staff is working with the Honduran Consulate to ensure proper notification of next of kin is being made abroad,” the news release said.

“The men’s names will be released once we know the victim’s families are properly notified. UHP has learned that the men were all traveling together to a work-site along U.S. Highway 40.”

The news release goes on to say: “Sadly, due to the nature of the crash, evidence to help identify the two additional men may have been lost in the wreckage. Investigators, DPS Victim Advocates and the medical examiner are working together to accomplish a 100 percent identification on the remaining two men.”

On Saturday afternoon, the UHP confirmed the name of the victim who was driving the pickup as Efrain O. Cardenas, 62, of Salt Lake City.

The incident occurred at 11:56 a.m., when a dump truck was traveling westbound on SR- 40 near milepost 10. Due to possible impairment of drugs and alcohol, the driver of the dump truck crossed the median and vaulted over the cable barrier. A 2002 Dodge Ram pickup occupied by six men was traveling eastbound when the dump truck crossed into eastbound lanes. The dump truck broadsided the Dodge Ram on the driver’s side.

Cardenas and the five other men in the 2002 Dodge pickup died at the scene, apparently on impact, according to charging documents. Three of them were ejected, and three were trapped inside the pickup when it was crushed by the dump truck.

In addition, a teenage girl and her mother were injured when they tried to avoid colliding with the larger crash. Their 2018 Jeep Wrangler veered to the right, and rolled in the right hand shoulder, coming to rest upside down. The two were transported to Park City Medical Center for serious injuries that were not life-threatening.

The male driver of the dump truck was transported to Heber Medical Center with minor injuries. Once released from the hospital, he was transported to Wasatch County Jail.

A probable cause statement released late Saturday identifies the driver of the dump truck that crushed the pickup as Jamie Don McKenzie, 41. He has been booked on initial charges of suspicion of:

  • Six counts of automobile homicide, negligence — DUI, a second-degree felony
  • Two counts of driving under the influence with serious bodily injury by negligent operation, a third-degree felony
  • Open container in a vehicle on a highway, a class C misdemeanor
  • Reckless driving, a class B misdemeanor
  • Unsafe lane travel, an infraction
  • Speeding, an infraction

The Probable Cause statement

The court statement filed in McKenzie’s case provides previously unreleased details in the case. The account was given by Utah Highway Patrol Coalville Trooper Jonathan Boyd, who said a Park City Police officer who arrived earlier found McKenzie inside the dump truck.

Jamie Don McKenzie is charged in the DUI dump truck crash that killed six in Wasatch County. Photos: Wasatch County Jail; Utah Highway Patrol

“Jamie Mckenzie was transported to Heber Valley Hospital for his injuries sustained in the crash,” Boyd’s statement says.

“In the dump truck UHP Sgt. Neil Ekberg located open containers of alcohol (one beer and one bottle of liquor). Around 1300 hours, I arrived at Heber Valley Hospital and spoke with Jamie Mckenzie in the emergency department.”

Boyd said he told McKenzie he was not obligated to talk about the crash, and asked and received permission to record any conversation that followed, the statement says.

“Jamie agreed to speak to me and I activated my recorder. Jamie told me he was driving a dump truck to Brown’s Canyon from Glenn Wild with a load of dirt. He knew he was in a crash but said he did not remember details of the crash. I could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath. He denied drinking any alcohol.

“I asked if he would consent to a blood draw to determine the alcohol content of his body and he refused. I told him that if he refused that I would apply for a search warrant and if it was obtained we would draw his blood to determine his alcohol content. Jamie told me to get the warrant.”

The officer did and returned after 2 p.m. with the warrant, showed it to McKenzie, and had the blood drawn and entered into evidence.

“Jamie McKenzie was released from the care of the hospital. Hospital staff were informed by me at that point that I would be taking Jamie into custody.”

McKenzie was diagnosed with multiple facial lacerations and alcohol intoxication, the statement says.

“I told Jamie McKenzie to place his hands behind his back and he complied. I placed him into handcuffs and told him that he was under arrest for driving under the influence and for the homicide of four people (at the time officers at the scene had not uncovered two addition people that had died trapped in the pickup truck under the dump truck Jamie was driving).”

Boyd read McKenzie his Miranda Rights, which the suspect said he understood.

“I transported him to the Wasatch County Jail. Jamie told me that he had been drinking alcohol last night and had not had any alcohol today. I asked him what kind of alcohol he was drinking and he said whiskey. I asked him about the open containers of alcohol in the truck we found and he said they were in his lunch box but he hadn’t had lunch today. He was remanded to the custody of the Wasatch County Jail.”

McKenzie is being held without bail, as recommended by Boyd.

“The person would constitute a substantial danger to any other person or to the community, or is likely to flee the jurisdiction of the court,” Boyd’s comments say.

“Based on the charges and the suspect’s criminal history I believe he would pose a serious risk if allowed to return out into the community.”

McKenzie pleaded guilty in 2006 to two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.

 

 

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