Police: Driver who caused crash that crushed woman’s car admits to reaching for dropped water bottle

Aug 17, 2023, 11:53 AM | Updated: 12:24 pm

A woman was extricated from her vehicle after it was crushed by a pickup truck in a crash. (Cottonw...

A woman was extricated from her vehicle after it was crushed by a pickup truck in a crash. (Cottonwood Heights Police Department)

(Cottonwood Heights Police Department)

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah — The driver accused of causing a three-car crash that critically injured a woman was arrested after police say he admitted to reaching for a water bottle he dropped while speeding on Highland Drive.

Santiago Jacob Hernandez, 22, was arrested for investigation of negligently operating a vehicle resulting in serious injury, possession of a weapon by a restricted person, drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, and never obtaining a license.

Cottonwood Heights police said a white pickup truck was heading northbound on Highland Drive around 9:15 p.m. Wednesday when it crossed four lanes of traffic and collided with two other vehicles on the I-215 offramp near 6200 South. The truck crushed the top of one of the vehicles, trapping the female driver of that car for almost an hour. During that time, first responders worked “desperately” to extricate her from the vehicle. Eventually, a semi-tractor tow truck was brought to the scene and lifted the pickup enough that rescue crews could pull the woman from the vehicle.

The woman was hospitalized in extremely critical condition and had been upgraded to critical condition as of Thursday.

According to a probable cause statement, police talked to Hernandez, and he “made a statement saying he had dropped a water bottle and had bent down to retrieve it causing his vehicle to veer across those lanes.” Hernandez was driving just under 66 mph on Highland Drive, which has a posted speed limit of 40 mph, police said after a data analysis of his pickup truck.

Officers also said they found 14 blue pills which Hernandez said were fentanyl, along with drug paraphernalia. Hernandez also told officers there was a handgun in the truck that was located by police. Due to Hernandez being in possession of illegal drugs, he was determined to be a “weapons restricted” person, police stated.

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Police: Driver who caused crash that crushed woman’s car admits to reaching for dropped water bottle