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Salt Lake woman charged with manslaughter in crash that killed high school sports star

Kaden Jacob Baxter
Wasatch High School

SALT LAKE CITY — Criminal charges were filed Friday against a Salt Lake woman accused of driving more than 80 mph on North Temple and crashing into another vehicle, killing a high school sports star.

Claudia Vanessa Gutierrez Thompson, 41, is charged in 3rd District Court with manslaughter, a second-degree felony, and reckless driving, a class B misdemeanor.

On Sept. 24, a Nissan Maxima ran a red light at the intersection of North Temple and State Street and collided with a Honda Civic, police said. Kaden Jacob Baxter, 20, the driver of the Honda, was killed.

Prior to the crash Thompson also ran red lights on North Temple at 600 West and at West Temple, according to charging documents. Seconds before the collision, investigators say Thompson’s speed was between 83 mph and 86 mph. The speed limit on North Temple is 30 mph.

Thompson told emergency responders that she had drank three cups of absinthe and taken 20 Valium pills prior to leaving her house, according to the charges. Prosecutors also noted that emergency crews were able to smell alcohol on Thompson’s breath “through the N95 masks that they were wearing.”

Her blood alcohol content was measured at 0.267%, or more than five times the legal limit, the charges state. Thompson’s California driver’s license had also expired in 2014, police say.

Baxter was born in American Fork, grew up in Heber City and graduated from Wasatch High School. He was one of four brothers.

“Kade and his brothers had a special bond. He loved his family fierce; they were his tribe,” his obituary states.

Baxter had a love of sports, dogs, movies and the outdoors. He was captain of both the football and baseball teams in high school.

“Kade was larger than life. His passion for everything allowed him to truly live his life to the fullest. He could always be found in a crowd, where his contagious laugh had the ability to lighten up the seriousness of this world. Kade had the biggest heart, wearing his emotions on his sleeve. He accepted everyone, and all were drawn to him and his zest for life. His endearing smile will never be forgotten. His laughter will continue to echo throughout this life until we are together again,” the obituary says.

During Wasatch High’s football game on Sept. 26, players knelt for a team prayer on the 8-yard line in honor of Baxter, whose jersey number was 8, and they put a No. 8 sticker on each of their helmets.

“Attended Kaden’s viewing tonight. It was very apparent that he is loved along with the Baxter family. We counted 10 generations of former and current Wasatch FB players showing their love and respect tonight,” the football team posted on its Facebook page on Sept. 28. “The Wasatch FB family and many many others in this community showed so much Christlike love to the Baxters and I’m sure will continue to do so.”

His baseball jersey number was also 8.

“Another young man taken too soon by a drunk driver. He was one of my favorite players I’ve ever coached for a few reasons. #1 he was a big time competitor. Every pitch of every AB, he competed hard and had a ton of confidence. #2 he never took himself, or me, too seriously. He kept everyone laughing and smiling all the time in our dugout. He had a ton of big hits, plays, pitches, etc., but I’ll remember him for so much more than that,” Wasatch coach Lou Green posted on Facebook.