A Central City man has been charged in connection with the death of a 7-year-old girl during an alcohol-related four-vehicle crash in January that injured six and involved an off-duty police officer.
Salt Lake police officer Mark Falkner and his girlfriend, Lauren Reese, were westbound on North Temple near 1300 West the night of Jan. 3 when an eastbound pickup truck towing a wooden trailer, driven by Brad L. Barnson, 39, Central City, suddenly turned in front of their car, according to charges filed Thursday in 3rd District Court. The truck had its headlights off.Falkner's car collided with the truck, which had its headlights off. On impact, the trailer disconnected from the truck and the truck's camper shell landed on top of the officer's car, injuring Falkner and Reese.
The trailer rolled south, crossing the westbound lanes of traffic, the charges say. A westbound car driven by James Kirkpatrick swerved to avoid hitting the trailer and ran head-on into an eastbound sport-utility vehicle driven by Maslah Muhamud.
Suban Muhamud, 7, a passenger in the sport-utility vehicle, was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical personnel as a result of injuries sustained from the collision. The driver and passengers Khadra Ali, 17, and Marin Mohamud, 4, were also injured.
Kirkpatrick, who had to be extricated from his car, sustained life-threatening injuries that "have left him in a probable permanent vegetative state," the charges say.
A blood analysis by the Utah State Health Department Toxicology Laboratory determined Branson, who was not injured, had a blood alcohol content of .10. The Utah legal limit is .08.
Branson has been charged with automobile homicide, a third-degree felony, and driving while intoxicated, a class A misdemeanor. He was released from the Salt Lake County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.