Santaquin vehicle pursuit ends in crash that killed teenage girl

Jul 2, 2018, 7:30 PM | Updated: 9:14 pm

SANTAQUIN, Utah – An investigation was underway into a police chase that led to a suspect crashing into a car driven by a 17-year-old Utah County girl and killing her.

Police said the suspect exited the freeway, and in a matter of seconds the chase became dangerous. The suspect slammed into the teen’s car at end of the off-ramp on Main Street in Santaquin.

The victim was identified as 17-year-old Rita Dolph.

Officials said the driver was also 17 years old.

Rita worked at CAL Ranch Stores for just under six months, but everyone had gotten to know her and love her.

“It’s just hard to know how you’re going to face it and deal with it, but we’ll work together, express our love to them and to each other,” said Rod Amussen, a manager with the store.

Store managers met with employees Monday and talked about Rita.

There were many tears as people remembered her for kind and loving personality.

“Any time we lose young people, well anyone, but young people especially where their lives are getting started, that community has to rally together to support each other,” Amussen said.

It was the third death of a Santaquin teen in a matter of weeks.

On June 18, Kaylee Marvin died after she fell 100 feet while hiking with a friend at a water fall.

On June 21, Kassidy Orme lost control of her car and struck a concrete retaining wall near Springville.

“It’s just so unexpected so it’s harder to handle,” said Lana Hiskey with the Nebo School District. “It’s just a really difficult time. We talk of Santaquin and Payson and they’re two really close communities.

Teachers and students were also coming together to grieve, and gathering photos and memories for the families. Doing all they could to help one another, and heal.

“If you walk in the halls when school is in session, these kids have a lot of energy. They have a lot of spunk. They’re full of life. They have their whole lives ahead of them, so it’s tough,” Hiskey said.

Utah County Sheriff James Tracy said vehicle pursuit protocol can vary from city to city. Essentially, they weigh the risk to the public versus the seriousness of the crime.

He also reviewed the dash cam video from the crash, and said he believed the officer was following protocol.

Two outside agencies were investigating.

The suspect in the case could face homicide charges. His identity was not available.

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Santaquin vehicle pursuit ends in crash that killed teenage girl