A new bride was killed on the way home from her wedding reception by a drunk driver, and now the suspect faces criminal charges, police in Utah said.
The Utah Highway Patrol said the driver of the pickup truck reportedly stole another car when drivers stopped to offer help.
Officials said Manaure Gonzalez-Rea, 36, was driving south in the northbound I-15 lane near 2000 South when his Toyota Tacoma pickup truck hit a Toyota Corolla head-on, killing newlywed Angelica Gabrielle Jimenez Dhondup around 1 a.m. on Aug. 7.
A 20-year-old female passenger was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Authorities said other drivers pulled over to help Gonzales-Rae and a passenger climbed out of the pickup truck, which had flipped over.
Police said Gonzales-Rae then stole this passerby’s pickup, but was quickly apprehended by responding troopers a few miles away near the I-80 off-ramp. The other passenger reportedly attempted to make a run for it, but returned to the scene not long after.
“The driver of the Toyota Corolla was found to be traveling home from her wedding when she was struck by the wrong-way vehicle and killed,” Utah Highway Patrol officials said in a statement.
According to a statement from family members on a GoFundMe page, Dhondup had just married her high school sweetheart hours earlier.
“She didn’t survive, she hadn’t even been married a full 24 hours and is leaving behind a widowed husband, two young handsome sons and a daughter she was a week away from adopting,” family members said.
The arresting trooper told FOX 13 News, Gonzalez-Rea had “a clear odor of alcohol on his breath” and “admitted to drinking three beers right before the crash.” Officials also reportedly observed “multiple other signs of alcohol impairment.”
Marisol Demorst, who was in the car with Dhondup, said “she spent her last hours talking about her family and how much she loved her kids and her new husband. What was a sweet night filled with laughter was cut short by a driver who went the wrong way and hit us,” during a press conference.
“I can’t sleep because all I see when I close my eyes is the truck that hit us,” Marisol said.
Gonzalez-Rea was charged with automobile homicide, criminal negligence, DUI of alcohol/drugs, theft, failure to remain at an accident involving death, driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and reckless driving. He was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail, and was ordered held without bail.