Driver booked for manslaughter in crash that killed two in Utah County

Jun 7, 2023, 3:51 PM | Updated: 5:00 pm

demolished car carrying two people who were killed...

Two people are dead after a collision on a Utah County roadway.(KSL TV)


EAGLE MOUNTAIN, Utah — The man who was involved in a crash that killed two people in Utah County has now been booked on felony manslaughter charges.

Police named Peterson Drew Matheson, 30, of Eagle Mountain, as the person who was driving a Ford 150 that hit a Porsche head on Sunday, killing its occupants, Rodney Michal Salm, 48, from Salt Lake City and Michaela Himmleberger, 47, of Holiday.

“Matheson turned himself in & was booked on two 2nd degree felony counts of manslaughter & class B reckless driving,” Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said in a tweet.

How police say the fatal crash happened

In an affidavit of probable cause, investigators explain what witnesses and cameras reported to police. The document states Matheson, in the truck, was trying to pass the Nissan Maxima on the right shoulder of state Route 73.

An eastbound driver of the car in front of the Ford and Nissan told police he and his wife were concerned about how close the two vehicles were to his own, estimating speeds of approximately 65 to 70 mph.

Documents state Matheson’s truck moved left from the right shoulder, hitting the Maxima. The driver of that car slowed down after the collision and the Ford spun to the left, in front of the Maxima, and into the oncoming lane, colliding with the Porsche.

Road looking east

Utah state Route 73 with a merge lane from Eagle Mountain Boulevard, looking east. (Google Earth Pro)

Deputies found paint transfer and a large amount of black tire marks on the passenger side of the Maxima and driver side of the Ford, consistent with the Maxima driver’s statement,” the affidavit states.

The document says a westbound motorist with a dash cam, that was ahead of the Porsche, recorded Matheson’s truck passing the Maxima on the shoulder. That person supplied the video to deputies.

How things may have started

The driver of the Nissan, who has not been named, told investigators the confrontation started when he passed the truck on Eagle Mountain Boulevard while both vehicles were heading north.

“The section of the roadway has two northbound lanes to allow vehicles to legally pass,” the probable cause statement reads. “The Maxima driver stated both continued north on Eagle Mountain Boulevard until the vehicles
arrived at the intersection of SR-73.”

Both vehicles turned east with the Maxima in front of the Ford. A witness told investigators that after making the turn to Route 73, the Maxima turned into the merge lane and the Ford turned into the regular travel lane, attempting to pass the Maxima.

“The witness stated the Maxima sped up not allowing the Ford to pass as it appeared he intended,” the affidavit states. With a short merge lane, that then becomes a single lane in each direction, the Maxima merged into the travel lane. The Ford then went to the shoulder in what appeared to be an attempt to pass on the right.

“The Maxima driver confirmed the Ford was on the right shoulder of the roadway, attempting to pass him after the Ford had tailgated the Maxima,” the document reads.

“It does appear the driver of the pickup was the primary aggressor in this case. The driver of the car, the Nissan, though, was involved,” Cannon said on Sunday.

PC documents say Matheson “operated his vehicle in a willful disregard for the safety of others.” It also states:

Matheson’s maneuver to pass the Nissan Maxima on the shoulder and then collide with Nissan Maxima created a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a vehicle collision would occur as were the speeds he was traveling outside of the travel lane and beyond the fog line.

Matheson turned himself in at the Utah County Jail in Spanish Fork Wednesday. Deputies had spoken with his family to state they planned to take him into custody.

Matheson was taken to a hospital after the crash Sunday and when deputies attempted to interview him there, a person  identified himself as Matheson’s attorney and said he declined to speak with detectives.

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Driver booked for manslaughter in crash that killed two in Utah County