Woman sentenced to prison in fatal I-80 crash

Published: Tuesday, April 3 2012 9:01 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — A woman convicted of driving the wrong way on I-80 while intoxicated, causing a fatal rollover accident, was sentenced to prison on Monday.

Karen Lynn Gallegos, 58, of Point of Rocks, Wyo., pleaded guilty to manslaughter, a second-degree felony; driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs, a third degree felony; and failure to remain at the scene of an accident involving death, a class A misdemeanor.

Gallegos was sentenced to one to 15 years in prison for the manslaughter conviction, up to five years for the DUI, and a year in prison for leaving the scene. A judge Monday ordered all sentences to run concurrently.

On May 5, 2011, Gallegos drank "a couple of beers," smoked marijuana, drank vodka and took Zoloft before driving on I-80, according to court records.

"She said she maybe should not have been driving," charging documents state.

Near Coalville, Gallegos began driving in the eastbound lanes of westbound I-80. She later told police she was headed to Salt Lake City but turned around because she had to use the bathroom, according to prosecutors.

A pickup truck trying to avoid Gallegos swerved to move out of the way, then over-corrected and rolled in the median. The passenger, Joseph Henrie, was ejected and killed. Three other occupants suffered broken bones, scrapes and bruises.

When Gallegos was pulled over, arrested and her car impounded, officials found "an open, half-full container of vodka stuffed into a bag of cheese puffs."

Gallegos was later overheard saying at the jail that the accident was the fault of the other driver for swerving "too early and too hard." She also said she did not stop for the accident "because there were plenty of people already on the scene."

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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