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Utah woman who hit, killed 2 cycling brothers charged with automobile homicide



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

WASHINGTON, Washington County — A southern Utah woman was arrested Saturday and accused of hitting and killing two California brothers while driving under the influence of drugs.

The brothers had been cycling and were in Utah to compete in the annual Spring Tour of St. George bike race.

Julie Ann Budge, 47, of Hurricane, was booked into the Washington County Jail and charged on Monday in 5th District Court with two counts of automobile homicide, a second-degree felony; two counts of DUI and two counts of causing an accident involving death, both third-degree felonies; reckless driving, a class B misdemeanor; and failing to stay in her lane, an infraction.

The crash occurred about 2 p.m. Saturday on Telegraph Street near Coral Canyon Boulevard in Washington where the two cyclists were apparently stopped at the side of the road.

Budge told police she was coming from her home and traveling west on Telegraph Street when, without warning, she suffered an episode related to a medical condition that caused her to turn her vehicle. "Julie stated that she swerved to the side of the road and had not seen that two cyclists were stopped on the side of the road," a police booking affidavit states.

She said she hit the two cyclists with her vehicle and could not get her vehicle to stop, the affidavit says.

A witness told police that "it appeared that Julie did not have the intention of stopping after hitting the two cyclists. The witness stated he followed Julie's vehicle until she pulled over and stopped several hundred yards away from the accident," according to the affidavit.

The cyclists had been using the bike lane and traveling west on Telegraph Street when they were struck by a Hyundai Genesis, Washington Police Lt. Kory Klotz said. The speed the vehicle was traveling wasn't known, Klotz said, but the posted speed limit was 50 mph.

Mike Staten was with his five sons Saturday, cycling the 100-mile route, and said none of them will forget what they saw at mile 85.

"As I turned the corner, I saw people out in the road, a couple of teenagers in cycling kits were screaming. There were two people on the ground receiving CPR from people who had stopped in their cars, and there were just pieces of bike — the biggest pieces were the tires, but everything else was shattered and strewn all over the place," Staten said.

The victims' sons had apparently been riding behind their fathers.

"My youngest said the boy who was screaming was crying out for his dad, and he's like. 'That could have been my dad,'" Staten said.

Witnesses and first responders attempted life-saving measures on the unresponsive cyclists and both were transported to St. George Regional Hospital, where they were pronounced dead, Klotz said. The brothers' names, ages and hometowns have not yet been released.

Budge "failed all field sobriety tests" after the crash, the affidavit alleges, adding that, "Julie explained that she had been admitted to the hospital the day before and had been taking fentanyl through an IV drip."

Budge was transported to a hospital where her blood was drawn before she was booked into jail, police say.

State court records indicate that Budge has a history of multiple traffic offenses, including guilty pleas to reckless driving, failure to yield, unsafe lane travel, failure to operate within a single lane and several others.

"We are gutted by the tragic and preventable death of the two cyclists whose lives were taken this weekend by someone who admittedly drove under the influence," Jenn Oxborrow, executive director at Bike Utah, said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to their loved ones and to everyone who witnessed the crash, as well as to those who attempted to provide life-saving help."

Bike Utah says it is a statewide nonprofit organization advocating for and supporting bicycling and other active transportation.

"Bike lanes exist to promote safe, active transportation, allowing vehicles and bicycles to travel simultaneously in different lanes on the same roadway. As we witnessed on (Saturday), and on numerous other occasions, when drivers are impaired no one is safe," Oxborrow said.

Contributing: Kiersten Nunez

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Brian West is News Director at KSL.com, managing the daily coverage of news. He has had an extensive career in media, working in radio, newspaper, TV and internet publications.

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