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Court records: Man accused of killing 6 in horrific crash has history of driving with alcohol

By Pat Reavy, KSL | Posted - Oct 21st, 2018 @ 4:02pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — The man accused of killing six people while driving drunk on U.S. 40 has a history of driving intoxicated and with open containers dating back 20 years, according to court records.

Jamie Don McKenzie, 41, of Heber City, was arrested for investigation of six counts of automobile homicide, two counts of causing serious injuries while driving intoxicated, having an open container in a vehicle, reckless driving, unsafe lane travel and speeding.

Just before noon on Friday, McKenzie was driving a large dump truck when it "crossed the median and vaulted over the cable barrier" and broadsided a Dodge Ram pickup truck, according to the Utah Highway Patrol.

Three people were thrown from the pickup. The other three were still in the pickup when the dump truck came to rest on top of their vehicle, crushing the cab. All six occupants were killed on impact, according to UHP.

"Their injuries that caused their deaths were so severe that their identities are still trying to be determined," police wrote in a Wasatch County Jail booking report.

As of Sunday, the only victim that had been identified was Efrain O. Cardenas, 62, of Salt Lake City.

Two other women suffered broken bones when their Jeep was clipped by the dump truck and rolled off the shoulder of the road, coming to rest upside down.

A driver who was behind the dump truck said McKenzie was "swerving across all lanes and speeding (70-75 mph)" before the crash, according to the report.

After the crash, troopers found an open bottle of liquor and an open beer, the report states.

McKenzie, who was driving a truck with a Heber City construction company logo on the door, told troopers he was taking a load of dirt to Brown's Canyon. He said he knew he had been in a crash, but he did not remember details.

After he was released from the hospital, McKenzie was arrested. As he was being transported to 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," the arresting officer wrote in his report.

According to court records, McKenzie has a history of being pulled over and ticketed for various traffic offenses, including just four days before the fatal crash.

On Monday, he was cited by Heber City police for following another vehicle too closely and causing an accident, according to court records.

On Oct. 9, McKenzie pleaded guilty to assault and intoxication in a domestic violence incident, according to court records. The plea was held in abeyance. A judge ordered McKenzie during sentencing to "complete an alcohol/substance abuse evaluation (and) comply with any recommended treatment," according to court records. He was also ordered to complete an anger management class.

According to a Wasatch County Jail booking report from that incident, the arresting officer noted that McKenzie "was extremely intoxicated, he had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, his balance was off and he smelled very strong of an alcoholic beverage."

On July 28, he was cited by a state Parks and Recreation officer in Wasatch County for having an open container in his vehicle, court records state.

In 2013, McKenize pleaded no contest to impaired driving and having an open container in his vehicle, according to court records.

In 2012 he was charged with intoxication, but Heber City later declined prosecution and the case was dropped, court records state.

In 2002, McKenzie took another plea in abeyance in another domestic violence related incident, court records state. A judge ordered him at that time to "continue in alcohol counseling," the report states.

In a separate case, he was charged in 2002 with seven counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. He pleaded guilty to two counts, both second-degree felonies, and was sentenced to 270 days in jail.

In 1998, McKenzie was convicted in one case of supplying alcohol to minors, in another of having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle, and a third case of having an open container, according to court records.

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Updated: Tuesday November 13, 2018 10:35 pm