UHP suspects drugs a factor in crash that may cause passenger to lose her leg

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah -- The Utah Highway Patrol says drugs and extreme speeding led to a nearly fatal accident at 114th South and I-15 early Friday morning.

Troopers say an Orem couple was traveling with their 10-month-old infant at more than 100 miles per hour at 2 a.m. when their car crashed into the back of a semi-truck, swerved left across all lanes and struck a barrier.

“The faster you’re going the more likely you are to be injured or killed,” said Sgt. Brent Sheby, Utah Highway Patrol. “That’s what we’re looking at right here, right now.”

Kaelan Johnson, 22, was the driver. He and his son were properly restrained and suffered very minor injuries. But Johnson’s wife wasn’t wearing a seat belt and her leg was nearly torn off. It’s unknown at this point whether the leg can be saved.

“It was pretty miraculous that she survived in this crash, but the way that she was positioned in the vehicle allowed her to survive,” said Lt. Todd Royce, Utah Highway Patrol. “If she was positioned differently it very well could have killed her.”

This isn’t Johnson's first brush facing drug related charges. Here’s a brief overview:

June 2015 – Four counts of drug possession and one count for drug paraphernalia possession.
June 2016 – Attacking a Miramar, Florida, officer and drug intoxication.
March 2017 – Failing to stop for an officer and attempted drug possession.

Now Johnson is accused of a driving under the influence with a serious bodily injury, and possession of drugs and paraphernalia for Friday’s crash. He has not yet been formally charged but he could face more than 10 years in prison if he is convicted.

After being checked for injuries at the hospital, Johnson was booked into jail.

The semi-truck driver was not injured in the crash but the freeway was closed for hours while troopers investigated the scene.

The Utah Highway Patrol suspects this crash may be part of a growing trend of Utah County residents driving to Salt Lake to buy and use drugs and then drive home.

“They were from Utah County, it was early in the morning,” Royce said. “We don’t have any concrete evidence that’s what happened but we suspect it in this case, and in other cases we know it has happened.”