Our sergeant said as he looked up he saw the two cars at least eight feet in the air before they came down from the collision. —Provo Police Lt. DeVon Jensen
PROVO — A teen who walked away from a center for troubled youths went on a daylong crime spree that ended with a woman being killed in a traffic accident, police say.
The 17-year-old boy reportedly left the Provo Canyon School about 1:40 p.m. on Sunday.
A little after 8 p.m., while driving an estimated 100 mph on University Avenue in a stolen Mercedes SUV and weaving in and out of traffic, the teen slammed into the back of a car that was stopped at a traffic signal and waiting to make a left turn, said Provo Police Sgt. Brandon Post.
A 65-year-old Utah County woman in the passenger seat was killed. Her husband was taken to a local hospital in critical condition.
The teen tried to run from the accident but was captured by police a short time later. He was booked into the Slate Canyon Detention Center for investigation of burglary, vehicle theft and manslaughter.
"Our condolences go out to the family," Post said.
Provo police refused Monday to release the name of the teen and had not yet released the names of the couple involved in the crash pending notification of family members.
The Provo Canyon School's website describes the facility as "an intensive residential treatment center that has been providing excellence in substance abuse, mental health and behavioral health treatment for troubled teens and pre-teens for over 40 years."
The teen, who is from out of state, Post said, managed to walk away from the facility. By about 4:30 p.m., police say he had made his way to a home on the northeast side of Provo and randomly entered a house through an open sliding glass door.
When homeowner Andrew Alger returned, he immediately knew something was wrong.
"My iPad was charging, and that's not where I left it. I then heard my bedroom door open upstairs," Alger said.
When he went to investigate the noise, Alger found "this big, black kid wearing my clothes, standing in my bedroom." The teen immediately apologized for being in his house.
"He said he had nowhere to go, got kicked out of his aunt's home," Alger said. "He said he needed clothes."
He believes the boy had been in his house for a while, judging from the Capri Sun he had grabbed from the refrigerator and drank while walking around the house and going through all the cabinets and the bedroom.
"He was not in any rush," Alger said. "My whole room was in disarray."
When Alger asked the teen if he had taken anything else from the house, he said he hadn't, despite his bulging pockets. Alger told the teen to empty his pockets, which contained cash and Alger's spare car keys.
"He was very scared, very timid, he was very afraid. He did everything I asked him to do. He was very quiet, very apologetic," Alger said.
He then told the intruder to take off the shoes he had stolen and leave his house.
"I told him if you leave now and don't take anything I won't call the police," he said.
The teen walked out of his house. But rather than run off, he sat in Alger's driveway for about a minute, apparently thinking about what to do next, Alger said. While he was doing this, Alger said he called police.
When officers later arrived, they found the teen's school-issued clothes stuffed under Alger's bed.
After leaving the house, police say the boy made his way to an apartment complex that had secured underground parking and somehow made his way inside. There, he found a Mercedes SUV with the keys still inside, Post said.
After taking the SUV, the boy, for a reason police can only guess was to show off, drove the vehicle back through the parking lot of Provo Canyon School.
Officers spotted the vehicle a short time later and tried to stop it near 1800 N. Freedom Blvd. The driver, while still driving the speed limit, refused to pull over, according to Provo police.
After turning onto University Avenue, the teen accelerated near 300 South. Police at that point stopped pursuing him. The boy, however, continued at a high rate of speed and struck another vehicle at 1860 South. Police estimated the boy was going more than 100 mph.
"He hit the back of that car at an extremely high rate of speed. Our sergeant said as he looked up he saw the two cars at least eight feet in the air before they came down from the collision," said Provo Police Lt. DeVon Jensen.
After hearing about the fatal accident, Alger said he was glad he didn't witness the boy's aggressive side.
"I feel very lucky. Because when I saw him, he was very calm, not aggressive, not violent. Nothing," he said. "I felt lucky I didn't see that (other) side of him. I feel very bad for what happened."
"We are deeply saddened by the tragedy that has occurred and our heartfelt condolences go to the family of those involved in this incident," Provo Canyon School CEO Brad Gerrard said in a prepared statement. He said he would not discuss specifics about the teen's case or how he was able to leave the treatment center.
Contributing: Shara Park
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