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Utah Highway Patrol via AP

Dump truck driver charged with six counts of automobile homicide

By Pat Reavy, KSL | Updated - Oct 22nd, 2018 @ 11:34pm | Posted - Oct 22nd, 2018 @ 2:30pm


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HEBER CITY — The Utah Highway Patrol says five of the six men killed in a horrific crash last week involving their pickup and a large dump truck were Hondurans in Utah for work.

On Friday, Jamie Don McKenzie, 41, of Heber City, was driving a large dump truck with a load of dirt on U.S. 40 when he crossed into oncoming traffic and hit a Dodge Ram pickup and then somehow ended on top of the truck's cab, crushing the occupants who weren't ejected, according to the UHP.

All six men were killed on impact. As of Sunday, the only victim that had been identified was Efrain O. Cardenas, 62, of Salt Lake City.

On Monday, investigators said the remaining five victims were all of Honduran descent and that the Department of Public Safety is working with the Honduran Consulate to try and notify next of kin before releasing their names.

Two of the victims had yet to be positively identified, according to the UHP.

Cardenas' oldest daughter, Viridiana Cardenas, on Monday told the Deseret News the family learned of her father's death while she was preparing for her 5-year-old daughter's birthday party.

"She thought that everybody was here because her party, so she didn't understand at that moment, but now she knows," Cardenas said.

She said her father "was the pillar of this house. He was everything for us and for my kids."

"He's like the best dad a little girl can have. … He was always there for us, not just for me, but for my sister, brother, everything. He was a support for everybody."

Viridiana Cardenas said she was "furious" at the man who caused the crash.

"I was super, super furious about it, but I mean, at the same time, he has a family. Maybe they're suffering too, because he's not with them," she said.

She said she believes the other five men killed in the crash, from Honduras, were in their 20s and had young children.

Meeting family members of the men has been "super hard," she said. "It was hard to see them suffer."

McKenzie was formally charged Monday in Wasatch County's 4th District Court with six counts of automobile homicide, a second-degree felony.

He also faces two counts of DUI, a third-degree felony, for causing injuries to two women whose vehicle was also clipped by the dump truck. Their vehicle rolled and the women suffered broken bones, but injuries that were not life-threatening, according to police.

A memorial fund has been established for the Cardenas family at Wells Fargo under the name Efrain Cardenas.

Contributing: Ashley Kewish

Correction: A previous version misspelled Viridiana Cardenas's first name as Viriviana.

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Updated: Tuesday November 13, 2018 12:44 pm