TOOELE — A man accused of driving an ATV that crashed on Mother's Day, resulting in the death of a young girl, now faces criminal charges.
Chad Tharp, 32, has been charged with automobile homicide, a third-degree felony, and reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor, in 3rd District Court. Prosecutors said Tharp had a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit at the time of the crash.
Miranda Anderson, 7, was sitting in front of Tharp, a family friend, when they veered off a Middle Canyon road into some trees. A branch ruptured an artery in Miranda's neck, and after emergency personnel were unable to revive her, the girl was pronounced dead at a Tooele hospital.
Jeff Sinner, Miranda's uncle, said Tharp might have let her drive the ATV before the crash. The crash was an accident, and he said Tharp is suffering, regardless of whether he serves time behind bars.
"We don't hold anything against Chad," Sinner said. "And he loved Miranda just like the family pretty much."
Sinner, the pastor of the Bible Baptist Church in Tooele, said church was a significant part of Miranda's life. "She was very helpful here at the church. She loved Sunday School. She brought her friends all the time."
Miranda also loved motorcycles and four-wheelers.
"She was well-loved, and she's well missed," he said. "We're going to always remember her."
Miranda's death has been very difficult for her parents, he said. Her father, who carried his daughter down the canyon for help after hearing the crash, is especially heartbroken.
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"He's very quiet right now," Sinner said. "He's just broken up because he was there and it's harder on him."
Sinner said he hopes his niece's death will serve as a wake-up call about the dangers of drinking and driving.
"Even though we're not going to have Miranda anymore, she's still here in spirit, so to say, and we know that a lot of people are going to react from this," he said.
Tharp is scheduled to appear in court on July 8.
Contributing: Sandra Yi