UHP reopens investigation into 2016 fatal crash, possible rape

UHP reopens investigation into 2016 fatal crash, possible rape

(Mark Wetzel, KSL TV, File)

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Highway Patrol confirmed Monday that it has reopened an investigation that began with a fatal crash three years ago and investigators are pursuing criminal charges.

On Oct. 26, 2016, troopers responded to a rollover crash on I-70 near Green River. Bryhzan Mak, 17, was ejected and killed.

The driver, Clifton Stansberry, who was 26 at the time, was critically injured.

As investigators began looking into the crash, they learned that Stansberry “has an extensive criminal history and is a registered sex offender,” according to a search warrant affidavit filed in 3rd District Court. Stansberry is a registered sex offender in Tennessee.

A sexual assault exam was conducted on Mak by the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office.

“DNA swabs taken from Mak’s sexual assault examination kit were analyzed and were found to be consistent with DNA provided by Stansberry,” the warrant states.

Stansberry was originally not expected to survive the crash, UHP Sgt. Nick Street said Monday. But he not only recovered, he has since reoffended and is currently in prison in Tennessee, Street said.

Utah law enforcers have reopened their case and are now pursuing potential charges of statutory rape, he said.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation assisted Utah authorities by obtaining letters from Mak’s mother that Stansberry sent to the girl while he was incarcerated.

“The content of these letters indicate Stansberry and Mak were in a dating relationship,” according to the warrant. “Due to the age of Stansberry and Mak, Stansberry should not have been in a relationship with Mak and a sexual relationship with her just prior to the vehicle accident would be a violation.”

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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