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Passenger And Friend Recounts Deadly Boat Crash At Lake Powell

LAKE POWELL – A passenger in last week’s deadly boat crash says the driver had been drinking throughout the day and told passengers “it was no big deal” when some of them expressed their concerns.

“After we had all seen her, I’m pretty sure everyone had known then that she probably would not make it,” said Taylor Bunce, a friend of Jayla Hiatt since 7th grade.

“She was very outgoing and always very caring. And she always put everyone else’s feelings first.”

So it was only natural that Taylor was on the boat with Jayla in Lake Powell on Friday, during a mutual friend’s senior trip.

“We went tubing and surfing and stuff.”

But the fun wouldn’t last. Taylor says the driver, 21 year old Triston Harrison, a cousin of one of the passengers, had been drinking throughout the day, even though they had asked him to stop.

“He just brushed it off like it was no big deal and said that it was just water. It was way different than driving. There was nothing that he could hit.”

Little did Taylor know Harrison had a history of alcohol abuse, as recent as a DUI charge just weeks before. And none in their group at Lake Powell could have known what would happen next.

“He was headed straight for a rock. And I had seen it,” Taylor said. “And he wasn’t slowing down and we got closer and closer. So right before we hit it I went to grab something. And we hit the rock.”

The impact threw Taylor, Jayla and a third passenger overboard as the boat went up on shore.

“It felt like everything had frozen for a second,” Taylor remembered.

But reality quickly set in. And Taylor, still scraped up on her back, arm and leg, said the boat started sliding.

“I don’t know if her leg had got stuck under or if she rolled, but when it started sliding [Jayla] went under the boat.”

Taylor said a friend “was holding her head and Triston was trying to do CPR.”

Sadly, 18 year old Jayla, of Spanish Fork, was killed, leaving behind heartbroken parents, younger siblings and friends.

Taylor’s dad, Chad Bunce, remembers getting the call and being overwhelmed with emotions.

“How lucky I was to still have my daughter. I mean, one out of three that were thrown out of that boat didn’t come home. And it could have easily have been any of those others, if not more,” Bunce said.

“I was mad at myself because I had begged her to go on the trip after I knew she didn’t want to,” Taylor said. “And I just got her to go with me because that’s just the type of person she was.”

On Tuesday, 21 year old Harrison, of Mapleton, was charged with automobile homicide, two counts of DUI, reckless driving, and a boating navigation violation.

His bail was set at $30,000 and he’s scheduled to appear in court on June 27.

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