Mom whose unbuckled child died was cited for unbuckled kids last year

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WEST VALLEY CITY — A Salt Lake woman driving an SUV carrying eight children without seat belts that crashed Thursday, killing a 3-year-old girl, was ticketed last year for not having young children in proper restraints, according to court documents.

Carolyn Dawn Hughes, 23, was driving the children Thursday afternoon when her SUV collided with another car as she attempted to turn left onto 2700 South from Redwood Road. The SUV flipped onto its side before landing mostly upright on top of the car.

Hughes' daughter, 3-year-old Paisley Hayden, was thrown from the car and killed. Her 2-year-old son sustained critical injuries to his leg and remained hospitalized Friday.

Hughes and the remaining six children sustained scrapes and bruises, according to police. At least three of those children belong to another family. Police said at the time of the crash that no one in the SUV was wearing a seat belt.

The driver of the second car, 21-year-old Josue Diaz-Cruz of West Valley City, sustained a broken arm. He was wearing a seat belt at the time.

A search of Utah state court records revealed that Hughes was cited on May 23, 2014, for driving without children in any safety restraints.

According to police documents obtained by KSL, Hughes was pulled over on I-80 in Summit County for a malfunctioning headlight. When the Utah Highway Patrol trooper approached her car, he reported that none of the children in Hughes' vehicle were wearing seat belts.

"I noticed three very young children in the rear seat with no child restraint or seat belt of any kind. The children appeared all to be between 1 and 3 years old," the trooper reported. "I asked the driver why they were not wearing a seat belt or in a child restraint and she stated that she was driving her brother's car."


Hughes was cited for one count of failure to wear a seat belt or use child restraint device and paid a $95 fee for the infraction. She received a warning for the headlight.

It was unknown Friday whether Hughes has an attorney who could be reached for comment.

West Valley police said Friday that an investigation into Thursday's fatal crash is ongoing and that police have not determined who was at fault in the crash. There was no confirmation of whether any citations will be issued.

In the aftermath of the crash, police on Friday urged drivers to use seat belts and to put their children in safety seats.

"I've seen, throughout my career, how seat belts have saved lives on some pretty major crashes," West Valley Police Sgt. Joshua Browne said. "Unfortunately, when they're not worn or kids aren't properly restrained, sometimes people become ejected and there are even fatalities that occur where, if a seat belt had been worn, they could have been avoided in some cases."

Brown noted that just prior to responding to Thursday's crash, a West Valley police officer had stopped a driver whose children were not wearing seat belts.

"We do see it, and unfortunately we see it too often," he said. "We try to educate the public when we can because it's really about the safety of those kids."

Contributing: Nkoyo Iyamba

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