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Man ordered to stand trial in fatal downtown crash

Published: Friday, Nov. 30 2012 5:53 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — It was foggy and cold the morning of Jan. 6, 2011, when Mary Harrison walked up 500 South to catch a bus.

She noticed one truck headed west.

"I noticed it because it was going too fast," she testified in 3rd District Court Thursday. "He was driving like he was on the freeway."

She kept looking toward the truck, but its windows were all foggy — foggy to the point that Harrison wasn't sure whether the truck's driver was a man or a woman.

"And the next thing I hear is a boom," she testified. "I thought maybe he hit a telephone pole. … Windows were all icy. You couldn't see in there."

Julie Ann Jorgenson, 26, was stopped at the intersection of 300 East and 500 South around 5:15 a.m. Her car was struck by the truck, allegedly driven by Shane Roy Gillete, and burst into flames, killing the woman.

"She was just at a stoplight having a sip of coffee when her world came to an end — literally," Jorgenson's aunt, Jane Sims, said.

Gillette, 37, was ordered Thursday to stand trial on charges of manslaughter, a second-degree felony, operating a vehicle negligently causing death, a third-degree felony, possession of drug paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor, speeding 70 in a 30 mph zone and unsafe vehicle, class C misdemeanors, following a preliminary hearing.

"This has been a long wait for us," Sims said. "We know it's going to be painful, but finally we hope to get some justice for Julie."

Prosecutor Sandi Johnson said Gillette suffered some brain injuries in the crash that have caused delays to the court case.

Salt Lake police officer Scott Stuck was the second officer to arrive at the scene and found Jorgenson's vehicle engulfed in flames. He said the car was crushed with "the back end almost up to the front of the vehicle."

The windows in the truck were icy to the point that Stuck said he thought maybe there was no one inside until he saw a shadow in the driver's seat. He said a small area, maybe the size of a credit card, had been scraped off of the windshield.

Accident investigator Rick Simpson testified that Gillette was traveling upwards of 70 mph when his car hit Jorgenson's vehicle. The speed limit in that area is 30 mph.

Simpson also said he found a glass marijuana pipe on the floor of Gillette's truck and that he could smell the substance in the truck. Toxicology reports later showed active THC and metabolite in Gillette's system.  

"It all just takes us back to the day when we got the word and we couldn't believe that this beautiful light had been taken from our lives and just how heartbreaking and unfair it is," Sims said of the hearing and the crash that claimed Jorgenson. "She was bright, incredibly bright, and beautiful and she loved to have fun."

Third District Judge Judith Atherton found there was sufficient evidence to support the charges against Gillette. An arraignment has been set for Dec. 17.

Contributing: Emiley Morgan

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