Driver who killed boy had used meth and was trying to call a drug dealer, charges say

A Kearns man had been using meth and was trying to call a drug dealer when he hit and killed an 11-year-old boy walking with his mother and then drove off, charging documents say.

A Kearns man had been using meth and was trying to call a drug dealer when he hit and killed an 11-year-old boy walking with his mother and then drove off, charging documents say. (Johanna Kirk, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

WEST VALLEY CITY — A Kearns man was charged Friday with hitting and killing an 11-year-old boy who was walking home with his mother — allegedly after just using methamphetamine and while trying to call a drug dealer — and then driving off.

Steven Merrill Rollins, 45, is charged in 3rd District Court with automobile homicide and negligently using a hand held device resulting in death, second-degree felonies; leaving the scene of an accident involving death, a third-degree felony; drug possession and obstruction of justice, class A misdemeanors; possession of drug paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor; and failing to stay in his lane, an infraction.

About 11:35 p.m. on Aug. 10, Lisa Mickelsen was walking home with her 11-year-old son, Slate, after the two had been in downtown Salt Lake City sightseeing. They had just gotten off a bus and were walking home near 4000 West and 4244 South when they reached the end of the sidewalk and stepped off the curb. That's when a pickup truck, traveling about 35 mph, hit Slate, according to charging documents.

"Witnesses stated they heard a loud noise that sounded like the truck had hit a mailbox. Witnesses stated that the truck did not hit its brakes and continued to drive away from the scene. Witnesses stated as they got nearer to the incident, they observed a woman screaming that her child had been hit," the charges state.

Slate was taken to a hospital where he was determined to have "a skull fracture, a broken spine, broken legs, bleeding on the brain and other multiple fractures," according to the charges. He later died at the hospital from his injuries.

Using debris left at the scene as well as collecting surveillance video, West Valley police determined that Slate had been hit by a Toyota Tacoma. On Aug. 12, a witness reported seeing a Tacoma with front-end damage near the area of the crash. Police searched the area, found the truck and tracked down Rollins in a trailer, according to the charges.

A woman also living in the trailer told police that Rollins had texted her on the night of the crash stating that he "needed to score," meaning he needed to find drugs, the charges state. The next morning, the woman said she found text messages on her phone from Rollins stating he had messed up and that "something had damaged the front end of his truck."

Rollins told the woman he had gotten into a chase with police and needed to "ditch" the truck and report it as being stolen, according to the charges.

But the woman told police that Rollins had left the trailer about 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 10 and "and was trying to contact a dealer on his cellphone while driving down 4000 West," the charges state. When Rollins returned to the trailer on Aug. 11, the woman said she showed him news reports of what had happened to the boy and told him he needed to turn himself in.

"Rollins kept saying he killed a kid," according to the court documents.

A second person, who said Rollins left the trailer after using meth, also showed Rollins news stories of the hit-and-run crash and told Rollins to turn himself in; but "Rollins kept repeating that he needed to report his truck as stolen," the charges allege.

Police say Rollins was on probation at the time of the crash following a conviction on a drug-related crime and had a warrant issued for his arrest for failing to comply with the terms of that probation.

Slate was a student at Ephraim Elementary and was set to attend Ephraim Middle School this year.

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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 for the Deseret News

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