TAYLORSVILLE — Criminal charges were filed Tuesday against a driver who police say caused a horrific crash in Taylorsville that killed a 2-year-old girl and critically injured her twin sister and mother.
Michael Brandon Conder, 43, of Taylorsville, is charged in 3rd District Court with DUI causing death, a second-degree felony; careless driving, a class C misdemeanor; and following too close, an infraction.
On July 28, Heather Marroquin was walking her twin daughters in a stroller on a sidewalk along 3200 West near 5095 South. A dog ran into the street, causing the driver of a 2002 Dodge Stratus to hit his brakes and abruptly stop to avoid hitting the dog, according to charging documents.
Conder, who was driving a 2006 Ford F-150 behind the first car, failed to stop and hit the rear of the Dodge. The impact from that collision propelled the Dodge onto the sidewalk where Marroquin and her daughters were hit and smashed into a cinderblock wall with such force that it left a hole in the wall.
Hadley Marroquin, 22 months, was killed. Her twin sister, Bethany Marroquin, was treated for extensive injuries at Primary Children's Hospital. Heather Marroquin checked herself out of a hospital shortly after arriving to be with her surviving daughter.
Bethany has since been released from the hospital but will need long-term therapy for her injuries, according to Unified police.
Conder told police he glanced down at his cellphone "for a split second" just prior to the crash, the charges state. After stopping his truck and helping the injured pedestrians, Conder agreed to a blood draw, according to police.
Morphine was found in Conder's system, the charges state. Conder did not have a prescription for morphine or codeine, which metabolizes into morphine, at the time of the crash, prosecutors wrote in charging documents.
According to a search warrant affidavit, Conder told police that he could not stop his truck in time.
"He said he was unable to safely avoid the collision and hit the rear end of the Dodge and sent it into the wall and pedestrians. Michael was asked about his phone and why he looked at it. He stated 'he heard a beep' for a notification, possibly a Facebook or email notification," the warrant states.
An accident reconstruction team determined that Conder was traveling 36 mph at the time he hit the first vehicle and he hit his brakes about a second after hitting the car, the charges state.
Conder has been charged with following a vehicle too closely at least twice previously — including just two months before causing the crash — and was charged in 2019 with negligent collision, a charge that was later dismissed as part of a plea deal, according to court records.