At least 7 suspects arrested in multi-agency street racing crackdown overnight in Salt Lake City

File photo: Gephardt Daily/Monico Garza/SLCScanner

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 16, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — At least seven people were arrested overnight in a joint operation into street racing in the area of 4800 West and 1100 South.

Six were arrested at the scene, and one reportedly attempted to flee the area but was apprehended, according to probable cause statements filed in Salt Lake’s 3rd District Court.

The six suspects arrested at the scene are identified as:

  • Cristopher Flores Luna, 23, who admitted to racing three times and was recorded on video.
  • Erric Balderas, 22, who was observed by undercover officers street racing, and who admitted to participating in one race, his probable cause statement says.
  • Gustavo Mendez, 20, who admitted to participating in one race, his statement says.
  • Jonathan Laguna, 23, who was observed racing by an undercover officer, his arrest statement says.
  • Thomas John Madsen, 45, who was observed by undercover officers engaging in street racing, was seen at the starting line, and was given a signal “making it apparent that they were going to be racing,” his probable cause statement says.
  • Jose Manuel Garcia, 20, who was reportedly seen driving in a street race, his probable cause statement says.

Each suspect listed above faces a single charge of speed contest or exhibition on highway, a class A misdemeanor. In addition, Garcia faces a charge of operating a vehicle without insurance, a class C misdemeanor. Each suspect above was jailed with bail set at $500.

Jailed with a bail of $5,000 and additional charges was Jean Aage Bernier, who reportedly attempted to flee the scene.

Bernier, 29, is charged on suspicion of:

  • Failure to stop or respond at command of an officer, a third-degree felony.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs, a class B misdemeanor.
  • Reckless driving, a class B misdemeanor.
  • Possession of controlled substances marijuana/spice, a class be misdemeanor.
  • Accident involving property damage, duties of operator, a class B misdemeanor.
  • Open container/drinking alcohol in a vehicle, a class C misdemeanor.

Bernier’s probable cause statement says that at about 11:44 p.m. Friday, the filing officer — from Utah Highway Patrol — moved into the area with officers from the State Bureau of Investigation and the Salt Lake City Police Department, and observed “dozens of vehicles were street racing.”

The report filed on Bernier says his white Subaru “pulled out of the parking lot and hit another vehicle. Then the driver drove around pedestrians and the police closure swerving around almost hitting officers outside their vehicles. I positioned my vehicle to stop him and he almost went head on with me and another trooper, driving into the shoulder.

“The driver then lost control and hit a concrete business sign at a high rate of speed in the area off the roadway disabling his vehicle. We conducted a high risk stop and arrested the driver. The driver was identified by a Utah driver’s license.

“The driver had red, blood shot eyes, admitted to smoking marijuana earlier in the day. He had relaxed facial features. During an inventory of the vehicle, I found marijuana in the center console area and an open container of alcohol. I observed an odor of an alcoholic beverage from the driver and from the vehicle.”

Bernier, still cuffed due to his attempt to flee, was given a field sobriety test and was judged to be impaired. Two passengers in his vehicle “complained of injuries as a result of the crash. EMS evaluated them on scene,” the statement says.

Gephardt Daily will have more information on this story if details are released.

Image: Google Maps

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