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Tribune writer arrested

A reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune was arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail Thursday for investigation of drunken driving and failing to yield to a police officer in an accident that injured a Utah Department of Transportation worker.

Medical writer Norma Wagner, 39, was arrested for investigation of DUI resulting in bodily injury and failure to yield. She was released on bail Thursday night.

Wagner was driving on I-80 about 1:45 p.m. when she approached an accident on the I-15 interchange that had forced crews to close the freeway, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Doug McCleve said.

A flatbed semitrailer hauling lumber had rolled, sending lumber across the road. The accident forced crews to shut the freeway for several hours and prompted UDOT crews to bring out flashing signs and barricades to divert traffic.

Some of the UDOT workers who saw Wagner's Jeep coming said it was swerving in and out of traffic and driving recklessly, McCleve said.

As she approached the barricades her Jeep hit the arm of a UDOT worker trying to slow her, McCleve said. The impact knocked the worker backward and sprained his arm and wrist.

A highway patrol trooper then told Wagner to pull over, McCleve said. Instead, she took off.

The trooper was able to drive in front of Wagner's Jeep and force her to stop, he said. But investigators are not calling it a chase, McCleve said.

After she was pulled over, she refused to take a Breathalyzer test, McCleve said.

Thursday's arrest follows another incident Sunday when Wagner was arrested and accused of going into her neighbor's home to take $5 worth of alcohol, according to a Salt Lake City police report.

The neighbor caught the incident on videotape, the police report says.

Wagner had been on probationary status at the newspaper pending successful treatment for a drinking problem and was fired following Thursday's incident, editor James E. Shelledy said.

"Norma has been a thorough and sensitive reporter," Shelledy said. "Recently, however, she has been undergoing treatment for a drinking problem.

"Tragically, she had a relapse and, as a result, placed innocent lives in grave danger. . . . As much as I empathize with Norma's struggle to overcome her problem, her reckless and illegal actions this week have resulted in her immediate termination."


E-mail: preavy@desnews.com