SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- As a paramedic, Olga Cooper has seen too many horrific car crashes, but none worse than the one that killed her friend and colleague.
"This one we have a connection to," Cooper said Friday following a preliminary hearing for the man accused of driving drunk and then running away from the wreckage and Jonathan Bowers' dying body last May.
Bowers, 31, of West Jordan, had been an EMT with Gold Cross for six years at the time of his death. He died in a hospital a week after the crash.
Gabriel Perez-Guiterez, 26, sat silently in the 3rd District courtroom as eyewitnesses and police officers detailed the early morning crash near 6200 South and 4000 West in Taylorsville. At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Royal Hansen ordered Perez-Guiterez to stand trial on seven charges, including automobile homicide, driving under the influence and fleeing the scene of a crash.
Perez-Guiterez had spent the night drinking with friends at home and then at a downtown nightclub, police said. After sleeping for a while on a friend's sofa, Perez-Guiterez drove home about 6 a.m.
He was driving about 75 mph when he crashed into Bowers' stopped car, said Unified Police Detective Michael Anderson. The detective called it "one of the worst I've ever seen in 11 years of investigating these crashes."
Bowers' car slammed into the back of another vehicle, causing Bowers' car to launch into the air. Perez-Guiterez's car crashed into a pole before hitting a wall and coming to a stop.
A witness to the crash said Bowers was badly injured and lying in the passenger seat when he was found. As prosecutors showed photographs of Bowers' car, mangled from the collision, Bowers' mother gasped.
After the crash, Perez-Guiterez seemed momentarily dazed, repeating over and over that he had "f----- up," a witness said.
Then he ran into a residential neighborhood where police found him hiding in a window well.