Woman injured in apparent DUI, texting crash has 50/50 chance of keeping leg, father says
Geoff Liesik, Deseret News
ROOSEVELT — The hospital staff tried to prepare Jeff Houston for what he was about to see, but nothing they told him came close to describing the scene in the emergency room.
"It was probably one of the most horrific things I've seen and still stayed standing," Houston said.
Doctors and nurses at Uintah Basin Medical Center were working to stabilize Houston's daughter so she could be flown to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray for more advanced care.
Keri Houston, 18, had been sitting in her parked car Jan. 28 when she was sideswiped by another driver. Her door was open and her left foot was planted on the ground outside, causing a near-complete amputation of her leg in two places.
"I don't think it's all sunk in," Jeff Houston said Monday, one week after the crash. "I think we're right there in the middle of it."
Roosevelt police say Jake Arrats was driving the car that struck Keri Houston. Arrats, 27, was under the influence of drugs and alcohol and was also texting at the time of the crash, according to investigators.
Duchesne County prosecutors charged the Fort Duchesne man with DUI, a third-degree felony, as well as seven misdemeanors, including texting while driving resulting in injury.
Arrats listened Monday as 8th District Judge Ed Peterson read the charges against him. When Peterson asked how much time Arrats would need to hire an attorney, he replied: "Why? I'm basically guilty of everything."
"I'm glad to hear it ... that he is taking responsibility for it," said Jeff Houston, who left his daughter's bedside to meet with prosecutors and sit through Arrats' initial court appearance.
"I hope that the justice system does what's right and takes care of this the way it needs to be taken care of," he said.
And while Jeff Houston plans to be at every court hearing, he said his primary focus for now is helping his daughter recover.
Keri Houston remained in critical condition Monday, and was set to undergo her third surgery since the crash. Doctors say she has a 50/50 chance of keeping her leg, according to her father.
"She's doing better than we ever dreamed she would be at this point," Jeff Houston said. "She's got an excellent attitude. She's really, really positive about it."
The injured woman's father said her family would like to meet the Good Samaritans who stepped up in the seconds after the crash and made a difference. Police say at lease six people, including a former Marine who fashioned a makeshift tourniquet out of his belt, cared for Keri Houston before paramedics arrived.
"We wouldn't have our daughter if it hadn't been for those people," Jeff Houston said. "You try to be there to protect (your kids) all you can, and when you're not, it's just really good to know that there are people who want to help."
As for texting and driving, Jeff Houston said he's gained a complete respect for how dangerous it is.
"I've probably done it myself in the past," he said. "Now? Just don't do it. Don't do it! In a few seconds, my daughter's life changed forever."
The family has set up a donation account at Mountain America Credit Union in Keri Houston's name to help defray some of the costs associated with her treatment.
Arrats is due back in court Feb. 21. He remains free on bail.
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