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Motorist injured by suspected drunken driver may not survive injuries, UHP says

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A Utah Highway Patrol vehicle in Salt Lake City is pictured on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.

Utah Highway Patrol troopers arrested an Enoch man suspected of driving drunk Saturday and causing a crash that critically injured a driver in Millard County.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

A suspected drunken driver caused a pickup truck carrying a camper to roll on Saturday and the driver of the truck may not survive, according to the Utah Highway Patrol.

The crash happened on I-15 south of Kanosh, Millard County.

“When I arrived, I found a blue Ford pickup, which had been carrying a camper, rolled onto its top on the right hand shoulder,” the responding UHP trooper wrote in a police booking affidavit.

The driver of the pickup truck was believed to be have died before emergency crews could extricate him from his vehicle, the affidavit says, “but was revived by the ambulance crew during the transport to the hospital. He was then moved to Utah Valley Hospital but lacks brain activity and is not expected to survive.”

Information about the driver was not immediately released. A female passenger in the truck was also injured.

Witnesses told troopers the driver of a Nissan Maxima was responsible, the affidavit states, with several people reporting erratic driving prior to the crash.

“It was described that the driver would change speeds dramatically, from around 30-40 mph and suddenly as high as an estimated 100 mph, all while weaving erratically and nearly striking several other vehicles, including at least three of the witnesses that were approaching me,” the affidavit says.

Other drivers stated that as the Nissan began passing the pickup, “it suddenly moved over left” and hit the truck’s rear right corner, according to the affidavit.

When troopers talked to the driver of the Nissan, Joseph Richard Gomez, 31, of Enoch, they noticed “his speech was thick and very slow” and that “he seemed lethargic and slow to respond to my questions,” a trooper wrote in the report.

The trooper had Gomez perform field sobriety tests, but he was unable to complete the tasks such as standing on one leg as he kept falling against the trooper’s patrol car, according to the affidavit.

A Breathalyzer test registered Gomez’s blood-alcohol level at 0.223%, or more than four times the legal limit, the affidavit notes.

Gomez’s Arizona driver’s license was previously suspended for alcohol violations, according to the UHP. He was booked into the Millard County Jail for investigation of DUI causing serious injury, having an open continuer of alcohol in the vehicle, driving on a suspended license and two traffic infractions.

The crash was part of a busy holiday weekend for the Utah Highway Patrol.

Two troopers were sent to the Jeep Safari in Moab to help with safety enforcement, according to a tweet from the UHP. In less than a day they made 100 traffic stops, issuing 81 tickets for speeding and 15 citations for seat belt violations. The highest speed was 94 mph in a 65 mph zone, the UHP said.

The UHP also reported that troopers had also stopped “a lot” of drivers going over 100 mph this weekend, including one vehicle going 111 mph in a 70 mph zone, and another caught going 109 mph in a 75 mph zone.