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Truck driver in fatal collision is jailed

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The driver of a stolen pickup truck accused of causing an accident that killed a pedestrian and critically injured another motorist was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail Sunday.

Donald Lee Snyder, 36, was booked into jail for investigation of criminal homicide, causing an accident while fleeing from police, possession of a weapon by a restricted person and possession of a stolen vehicle. All are second-degree felonies. He was also wanted for parole violation out of Virginia.

He was being held Sunday on no bail.

The driver of the stolen pickup truck was trying to get away from a Utah Highway Patrol trooper when he ran a red light at 1700 S. Main about 7:30 p.m. Friday. The truck broad-sided a Porsche driven by 36-year-old Douglas Butcher.

The impact from that accident sent the truck flying off the road where it hit 49-year-old Knut Odland, who had just left the Hideaway Lounge and was standing on the sidewalk. Odland died from his injuries on Saturday.

Inside the stolen truck, investigators found a sawed-off shotgun and "lots of ammunition," said Utah Highway Patrol trooper Randy Akers. The driver was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He was released Sunday and booked into jail.

Steve Butcher said Sunday his brother Doug was still in critical condition at University Hospital. A family friend told the Deseret Morning News Saturday that Doug Butcher had a ruptured aorta, little brain activity and the left side of his skull was crushed and had to be removed.

The Salt Lake City Police Department is investigating the crash and will look for the answers that many family members of the victims are asking, such as why the tragic accident happened and could it have been prevented? The city will be reviewing evidence in the case, including dash-cam video from the pursuing trooper's car.

Akers said the trooper involved in the incident had spotted the pickup driving erratically near 1750 S. State, as if the driver was trying to avoid him.

"At one point he pulled into a hotel parking lot, found there was no exit, whipped around and came back onto the road. It was very quick. It caught the trooper's attention," Akers said.

The trooper was assigned to the division of the Department of Public Safety that provides security for the state Capitol and other state buildings. He was not assigned to a unit that actually patrols the highway, Akers said. Whether the trooper had just gotten on duty or was making his way to a building to check security was unknown Sunday.

One of the biggest questions Salt Lake City police will likely investigate is whether the trooper was actually involved in a chase.

By the time the trooper turned on his red and blue lights, Akers said the truck had already taken off. The trooper reportedly told dispatchers he was trying to pull over a vehicle on a failure to yield, he said. A "failure to yield" call does not always mean the trooper is involved in what many would consider a "chase," Akers said.

Regardless, he said there wasn't a lot of time between when the trooper turned on his lights and the accident.

"It was a very abrupt situation," he said.

The trooper had barely turned onto 1700 South when the accident occurred, Akers said.

Odland's brother, Dick Odland, said, "My emotions right now ... I'm just saddened by his death, a senseless death from someone who made some fatal mistakes at that intersection. Other people were injured for the mistakes the driver made."

Odland's family came to Salt Lake from Norway. Knut was born in Salt Lake but went back to live in Norway for a while and still has a brother and sister living there.

He served in the U.S. military during Desert Storm as a combat engineer.

"He was just a real good person. He enjoyed talking with people. He had a lot of friends he hung around with," Dick Odland said. "He was really willing to help someone anytime. Just a really nice guy."

Funeral arrangements for Odland were pending Sunday.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com