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Driver of vehicle hit by train charged in pregnant passenger's death

(Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office)



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SALT LAKE CITY — The driver of a Jeep that was hit by a FrontRunner train last summer, killing a passenger who was eight months pregnant, has been charged with manslaughter.

Nephi Adelino Makaya, 26, of Salt Lake City, was charged Monday with the second-degree felony, in addition to driving on a suspended license, a class C misdemeanor, and not having registration, an infraction.

On July 25, Makaya was driving a Jeep on 900 South when he approached the railroad tracks at 600 West. The crossing arms were down, according to charging documents. To get around them, Makaya drove around a concrete barrier and traveled west in the eastbound lanes, charges state.

"While the crossing arms were still down, Makaya drove the Jeep onto the tracks, at which time he was hit by the FrontRunner (train)," according to the charges.

The Jeep's passenger, Kaipa ʻOfa KiʻUiha Sateki Kinikini, 30, who was eight months pregnant, was declared dead about 30 minutes after the crash, according to charging documents. Her unborn daughter was delivered by emergency C-section and survived.

Investigators later determined that Makaya had methamphetamine and marijuana in his blood at the time of the crash, and was driving on a suspended license, charges state. Furthermore, his vehicle had no insurance or registration, according to court documents.

The train was out of service and headed to Provo to prepare for the morning commute, according to Salt Lake police. Only the conductor, who was not injured, was onboard.

Makaya has a history of driving without a license or on a suspended license, dating back to 2008, according to court records. Most recently, he was charged with driving on a suspended license in March, according to court documents.

Makaya also has assault and domestic violence-related convictions, as well as theft, according to court records. In October, the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office filed a material witness warrant to get Makaya's testimony on an aggravated kidnapping and robbery case, court records state.

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Pat Reavy

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