SOUTH JORDAN — A Cottonwood High School assistant football coach was killed Saturday morning after police say he was hit by an intoxicated driver in a violent crash.
Michael Gallegos, 39, was stopped at a red light at the intersection of 9800 South and Bangerter Highway just after 3 a.m. when a vehicle traveling at a very high rate of speed slammed into the back of his car, officials said.
"The whole back of the car was touching the back of the front seat," said South Jordan Police Lt. Matt Evans. "It completely buckled the frame."
There were no skid marks or signs of braking before the crash, he said. Shortly after the accident, Gallegos' car caught fire. By the time emergency crews arrived, it was fully engulfed, Evans said.
Gallegos was believed to have been killed by the impact of the collision and not the fire, Evans said. Gallegos was pronounced dead at the scene.
Blake Molder, 23, was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital and later released. He was then booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of DUI and automobile homicide. Evans said he told investigators he was going home from a bar when the accident happened. He may have been intoxicated on both drugs and alcohol, Evans said.
Former Cottonwood head coach Cecil Thomas, who now coaches at Weber State, hired Gallegos when he took over the Colts’ program five years ago. Both men had coached in the Highland High program.
“Mike was the kind of guy that whatever you asked him to do, it got it done,” said Thomas. “He was very valuable as an assistant coach. He was one of the guys I could trust if I had to be doing something else. He was my eyes on Friday night.”
Gallegos graduated from Highland, where he played offensive line. He attended the University of Utah and attained a double major in sociology and history, according to the football program. He’d coached for 18 years, and married his wife, Debbie, eight years ago.
“It’s a really sad deal,” said Thomas. “He’ll be missed.”
Contributing: Amy Donaldson.