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Woman critically injured in head-on crash caused by wrong-way driver dies, police confirm

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Woman critically injured in head-on crash caused by wrong-way driver dies, police confirm

By Pat Reavy, | Posted - Apr. 21, 2021 at 10:22 a.m.

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — A 19-year-old woman involved in a head-on crash on the freeway with a wrong-way driver on Monday has died from her injuries, according to the Utah Highway Patrol.

On Tuesday, the UHP reported the woman was "stable." But Lt. Nick Street confirmed Wednesday morning the woman's condition took an unexpected turn overnight and she died.

The woman, whose name has not been released, was critically injured Monday when the Ford Taurus she was driving was hit head-on by a Chevy Avalanche traveling the wrong-way on the interchange from I-215 to southbound I-15 in Murray. She had to be extricated from her wrecked vehicle before being flown by helicopter to a local hospital.

A 31-year-old man in the Taurus suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries, the UHP states. A dog in the vehicle was also injured.

A second vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee, also hit the Avalanche head-on after the first crash, according go the highway patrol. Two people in that vehicle suffered minor injuries.

Justin Wayne Robertson, 35, of Cottonwood Heights, was arrested after trying to run from the wrecked vehicles, but only made it about 100 yards before being captured, Street said. He was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of 14 charges, including failing to remain at the scene of an accident involving serious injury and causing serious injury while driving under the influence.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office will now screen the case for possible charges that account for the death of the 19-year-old woman.

Police say Roberton's dangerous series of events started when he rammed a Unified police patrol car that was parked at the department's Cottonwood Heights substation, 7840 S. 2700 East. The patrol car was not occupied at the time.

Investigators believe Robertson intentionally hit the police car head-on, though a motive has not been released as of Wednesday. Because the police vehicle had a push bar on the front, it did not incur extensive damage.

Unified police pursued Robertson after the collision, but called off their chase when he got onto I-215 at 6200 South going the wrong way, according to a police affidavit.

When he reached the interchange to go south on I-15, Robertson hit two vehicles, the affidavit states. He was taken to a local hospital with minor injuries and booked into jail after being medically cleared.

At the hospital, Robertson told police "several times he was high and that he used meth" about 10 to 30 minutes prior to the crash, the affidavit states.

He also stated that "he had planned the events of the night and had done them on purpose," according to the affidavit. The UHP has not not clarified if that means Robertson planned on just hitting a police car or planned on getting in a head-on, wrong-way crash on the freeway, or both.

According to court records, Robertson was charged with DUI in November for an alleged incident in Cottonwood Heights.

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