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Yearlong fatal crash case at Utah Starbucks focusing on medical records

By Pat Reavy, KSL | Posted - Jun 23rd, 2019 @ 8:12pm



MILLCREEK — The yearlong investigation into a man who crashed into a Starbucks in Millcreek, killing one woman and critically injuring two others, is now focusing on the driver's medical records.

Specifically, investigators want to know if the driver was supposed to be taking any medication for epileptic seizures, or whether he was taking any medications that would have affected his ability to drive, according to a new search warrant affidavit.

More than a year ago on June 8, 2018, Joslyn Spilsbury, 48, was sitting at a table outside Starbucks, 4744 S. Highland Drive, about 9:15 a.m. when she was hit and killed by a truck driven by West Walker, 35, of Oakley, Summit County. The truck jumped the curb while traveling at a high rate of speed and plowed into people, coming to rest when it hit the coffee shop and rolled onto its side.

Two others sitting at the same table, Roger Kirwin, 47, of Sydney, Australia, and Robert Dillard, 84, of Salt Lake City, suffered serious injuries.

Walker, who had to be extricated from his vehicle, suffered a broken leg. Two children in his truck, ages 6 and 7, were not injured.

At the time of the incident, Unified police were looking at whether Walker had suffered a medical issue prior to the crash. But they also noted that he was not being cooperative with detectives and that he declined to talk to them at the hospital.

Toxicology tests on Walker confirmed he was not intoxicated at the time of the crash, according to the affidavit filed in 3rd District Court.

"Subsequent testing showed negative for any alcohol, drugs of abuse or prescription medication," the warrant states.

Surveillance video collected from two nearby businesses captured the truck's path. Video from Rancheritos restaurant, on the east side of Highland Drive, recorded the truck moving slowing through the parking lot, then "starting to accelerate, driving over a raised curb and traveling over some lawn," the affidavit says.

Across the street, a second business recorded the truck "entering the northbound lanes of Highland Drive, crossing in a westerly direction."

After the crash, one of the first officers who arrived at the scene noted, "Walker looked at me with confused look and stated he did not know how many kids should have been inside," the warrant states. "The witness who made first contact with Walker stated Walker was 'confused when he woke up and did not appear to realize he had been involved in a crash.'"

Detectives later requested Walker's medical history.

Walker's attorney provided seven pages of follow-up medical records.

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"The medical records were dated July 17, 2018, which was more than a month after the crash," the warrant states. "These records reflect a medical consultation with Walker. Walker was referred to (a doctor) for follow-up, specifically for: 'Localization-related (focal) (partial) epilepsy and epileptic syndromes with complex partial seizures, without mention of intractable epilepsy.'"

Walker has had history of "epilepsy since 2006. He denies having any febrile seizures," according to medical history obtained by police. The affidavit outlines several incidents when Walker has had seizures over the past few years.

On the day Spilsbury was hit, "he was driving and allegedly he had no warning and suddenly stiffened and pushed the speed pedal. He was reportedly unconscious and staring. He hit the lady sitting drinking coffee and other people on the Starbucks porch. He broke his leg and his lumbar spine," according to the report quoted in the warrant.

The report also says Walker was supposed to be taking a number of medications. Investigators now want to find out if Walker had been taking those medications at the time of the crash.

"Mr. Walker identified four seizures for which he was taken to the hospital yet denied obtaining any prescriptions to control this medical condition. Mr. Walker refused to speak with investigators as to the cause of the crash. As both witnesses and on scene officers believe this may be drug-related, your affiant (investigator) seeks to determine if Mr. Walker was supposed to be taking any medications, and whether those medications would have affected Mr. Walker’s consciousness or driving," the warrant states.

Over the weekend, Spilsbury's mother told KSTU that even though she moved to California from Utah after her daughter's death in an effort to move forward, she still struggles.

"It’s just gut-wrenching. I’m so anxious all the time and I’m just not enjoying life, you know? I can’t settle down," she said.

Gay Lynne Sylvies, who still hasn't received an apology from Walker, said she would like to know whether criminal charges will be filed so her family can pursue civil action.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said while he could not talk specifics of the investigation, which is now over a year old, he said accident reconstruction cases typically involve very long investigations. Not only do investigators have to do a physical reconstruction of a crash scene, there is also scientific reconstruction that can include tracking down medical history. The investigations are also resource intensive, he said.

Once prosecutors collect evidence, they have to determine whether the actions of a person rise to a criminal level, Gill said. There are car accidents every day in Salt Lake County, but not all of them warrant criminal charges.

In a case with a loss of life, Gill said all investigations are taken seriously and his office is committed to answering all unresolved questions.

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