Witnesses recount tragic accident caused by texting driver

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ROOSEVELT — The screams stayed with Jason Hollobaugh all night.

"You heard the crash — it was loud," he said Tuesday. "Then I go running outside and she's just screaming."

Hollobaugh and his roommate, Robert Stoney, had run outside about 5:20 p.m. Monday to find Keri Houston lying next to her crunched car, screaming in pain. The men "did what needed to be done."

"Her leg was all but completely off in two places, so I figured I needed to stop the bleeding," said Stoney, who immediately fell back on the first-aid training he received in boot camp 10 years ago as a Marine recruit.

"'Restore the breathing. Stop the bleeding. Protect the wound,' was the first thing that came to mind," he said. "It was a little ditty they taught us. Honestly, it was the only thing I remembered."

Stoney pulled off his belt and used it as a tourniquet to stanch the blood pumping from Houston's mangled leg while Hollobaugh held her head in his lap and tried to calm her fears.

"I didn't want her to know how bad it was," Hollobaugh said.

Houston, 18, was listed in critical condition at Intermountain Medical Center on Tuesday, one day after she was pinned between her parked car and another vehicle as she stood in front of her home at 755 S. 200 East.

Roosevelt police arrested Jake Antonio Arrats, who is accused of hitting Houston and then driving almost 300 feet down the street, where he crashed through a chain-link fence into the front yard of a house on the corner of 700 South and 200 East.

"There is suspicion that there was alcohol involved and drugs," said Roosevelt police detective Pete Butcher.

Quick intervention by a lot of people — there were about six people who stopped — definitely aided to save Keri's life.

–Detective Pete Butcher, Roosevelt Police Department

But that wasn't the only suspected form of impairment, according to Butcher.

"(Arrats) said he was coming home from the grocery store and his wife had sent him a text message," the detective said. "He responded to the text message — it was four letters — and that's when the crash occurred."

The message Arrats was sending?

"I believe it was 'ha ha,' is what the text was," Butcher said.

Arrats, 27, was booked into the Duchesne County Jail for investigation of DUI, texting and driving, no insurance and never having obtained a driver's license. He posted bail and was released Tuesday morning.

Butcher, who worked as an emergency medical technician for 10 years, said he would likely be investigating an automobile-homicide case if Houston hadn't received help from Hollobaugh, Stoney and others before the ambulance arrived Monday night,

"Quick intervention by a lot of people — there were about six people who stopped — definitely aided to save Keri's life," the detective said.

Hollobaugh and Stoney each dismissed the idea that anything they did to help Houston should be considered heroic. They also said the experience has changed their understanding of the dangers of texting and driving.

"I've done it. I think we've all done it," Hollobaugh said, "but people need to pay attention because that's how fast that lady, her life changed in 10 seconds."


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Geoff Liesik


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