A birthday celebration turned deadly when two carloads of friends, who had been drinking according to police, decided to race each other home.
Investigators estimate the two cars were traveling between 75 to 100 mph when one of the vehicles crashed on 4000 West near 4700 South, ejecting both the driver and passenger. The passenger, 26-year-old George Tuiasoa, was catapulted into a pole and killed on impact, said West Valley police Lt. Dalan Taylor.
The incident started about 2 a.m. when five friends drove home in two cars from a party, Taylor said.
"They knew each other. They hade actually been celebrating one of the people's birthdays. On their way home they decided to screw around and start racing each other," he said.
Near 5400 South and 2000 West, a Taylorsville police officer spotted the racing vehicles and attempted to pull them over but lost sight of them on the Bangerter Highway because they were going so fast, Taylor said.
A Salt Lake County Sheriff's deputy spotted the speeding cars again on 4000 West. This time, one of the cars was traveling on the wrong side of the road and nearly hit the deputy, he said. By the time the deputy turned around to catch up with the vehicles, they were again out of sight.
The pursuing deputy found the vehicles after one had crashed.
Right before 4700 South the road curves, Taylor said. One of the racing vehicles missed the turn, slid about 100 yards before hitting two parked moving vans in a U-Haul parking lot.
The 33-year-old driver of the vehicle suffered a neck fracture and was flown to a local hospital, he said.
No one was wearing seatbelts, he said. Detectives believed alcohol, in addition to speed, was a factor.
"We could smell alcohol on all the parties involved," Taylor said.
Two passengers, a male and female in the car that did not crash, were arrested for obstruction of justice on allegations they lied to investigators about who the people were in the car that crashed and who was driving.Charges against the drivers of both vehicles were pending Friday, according to police. The driver of the vehicle that crashed faces possible automobile homicide charges after he was released from the hospital. Investigators did not say what charges might be pending against the driver of the other vehicle.
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