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Passenger dies after leap from van

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A patient from Valley Mental Health was killed Wednesday afternoon after apparently jumping from a moving van.

The woman, 43, a driver and five other patients were driving back from a lunch outing about 2 p.m. when the woman stepped out of the vehicle near 6100 South and 900 East, said Salt Lake County Sheriff's deputy Peggy Faulkner. Investigators weren't sure Thursday morning whether the woman was run over by the van she was riding in or another vehicle, she said.

The van was traveling about 35 mph when the woman jumped. She was flown by medical helicopter to a local hospital where she later died.

The woman was living at one of the Valley Mental Health's residential facilities and was being treated for depression, said Valley spokeswoman Connie Hines. But she had been responding to treatment and medication and there was no indication she was feeling suicidal Wednesday, she said.

Faulkner said detectives don't know what the woman was thinking and are not classifying the incident as a suicide at this point.

The woman was sitting in the front passenger seat when she opened the van door. The other patients reportedly tried to grab the woman but were unable to catch her, Hines said. Those patients met with two crisis workers after the accident Wednesday afternoon.

Many of the newer vans used by Valley Mental Health have safety locks, Hines said, but this one did not.

"But as far as I know there are no regulations" for community mental health facilities to install such devices in their vehicles, said Utah Division of Mental Health spokeswoman Janina Chilton.